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IAF Air Strike in Pakistan Highlights: Pak summons India’s envoy

IAF Air Strike in Pakistan Highlights: Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale confirmed a "non-military preemptive action specifically targeted at a Jaish-e-Mohammed camp" run by Masood Azhar. The target was chosen to avoid civilian casualties, he said.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: February 27, 2019 7:53:53 am
Indian Air Force Aerial Strike: The Indian Air Force has not yet responded to the claims. A media briefing will be held shortly. (File) Indian Air Force Aerial Strike: India confirms air strike on Balakot terror camps run by JeM. (File)

IAF Air Strike in Pakistan Highlights: India, early Tuesday morning, struck a key terror camp in Balakot, Pakistan, eliminating JeM terrorists including fidayeen who were undergoing training. At a press briefing, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale confirmed a “non-military preemptive action” specifically targeting at a Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Balakot. Gokhale said the target was chosen to avoid civilian casualties. Gokhale said the camp, located in thick forests on a hill top away from civilian areas, was run by Maulana Yusuf Azhar, brother-in-law of JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar. He said there was credible information that JeM was planning suicide attacks similar to Pulwama in other parts of the country and hence this strike was necessary. UPDATES here

Pakistan armed forces spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor claimed Indian aircraft “intruded from Muzaffarabad sector” and “dropped a payload” near Balakot “facing timely and effective response from Pakistan Air Force”. Pakistan summoned India’s acting High Commissioner and condemned “violation of its territorial sovereignty” by Indian jets.

Reacting to India’s press briefing, Pakistan said it would respond to India’s “aggression” at a time and place of its choosing. Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for a joint session of Parliament on February 27.

Read | IAF strikes JeM camp in Balakot: Full text of India’s statement

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Pakistan has claimed Indian aircraft crossed over into PoK and summoned India's acting High Commissioner. Read in Tamil, Malayalam and Bengali.

07:53 (IST)27 Feb 2019
Balakot: A 6-acre training camp for 600 terror recruits, run by Masood Azhar’s kin

The expectation of the Pakistani establishment that the Jaish-e-Mohammed’s headquarters in Bahawalpur would be the obvious target of the Indian retaliation for the Pulwama terrorist attack, led to a large number of Jaish cadre being “congregated” at the organisation’s main training centre in Balakot, top security officials have told The Indian Express. Read More

Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. (AP)
07:50 (IST)27 Feb 2019
Mirage, Awacs, Sukhoi, Popeye: How IAF took down Jaish training camp

While the Indian Air Force was deployed during the 1999 Kargil conflict, Tuesday was the first time after the 1971 war that it fired on targets inside Pakistan. Although the entire operation, said to have got political clearance last week, lasted less than an hour and there was only one target, the risks were high and pressure for guaranteed success was huge. Read More

07:46 (IST)27 Feb 2019
Delhi said terrorists were plotting another attack

By striking terrorist camps about 80 km away from the Line of Control in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, India chose “non-military” targets, the Jaish-e-Mohammed-run terror camps, and justified the strikes as “pre-emptive” since terrorists, Delhi said, were plotting another attack.

07:43 (IST)27 Feb 2019
India strikes terror, deep in Pakistan: Next step, diplomatic outreach

Less than a fortnight after the single bloodiest attack in Jammu and Kashmir in the last three decades of militancy, India on Tuesday conducted air strikes deep inside Pakistan, the first time after the 1971 war that it has hit targets in the country. Announcing that India had struck the “biggest training camp” of the Jaish-e-Mohammad in Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday, in which “a very large number” of JeM terrorists and their trainers were “eliminated”, the NDA government, effectively, drew a new red line in its strategic calculus with Pakistan. Read More

20:03 (IST)26 Feb 2019
Pak cinema body boycotts Indian content

Choudhary Fawad Hussain, Pakistan I&B Minister: "Cinema Exhibitors Association has boycotted Indian content, no Indian movie will be released in Pakistan. Also have instructed PEMRA to act against made in India advertisements."

19:09 (IST)26 Feb 2019
Pakistan summons India's envoy

Pakistan summons India's acting High Commissioner and condemns "violation of its territorial sovereignty" by Indian jets, PTI reported

18:42 (IST)26 Feb 2019
EU urges 'maximum restraint' from India, Pakistan after air strike

The EU has called on New Delhi and Islamabad to exercise "maximum restraint" after Indian Air Force destroyed a Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camp in Balakot. "We remain in contact with both countries and what we believe is essential is that all exercise maximum restraint and avoid further escalation of tensions," EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told reporters, reported PTI

16:43 (IST)26 Feb 2019
Will take international media to area of strikes: Pak Foreign Minister

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan will take international media to the area of strikes. Helicopters are being readied, right now weather is bad, will fly when weather permits, he said. 

16:26 (IST)26 Feb 2019
Explained: What does a non-military preemptive strike mean?

A non military preemptive strike means that a military target has not been hit by the Indian Air Force that carried out the strikes in the early hours of Tuesday. Hitting a military target would be construed as an act of war.

India, therefore, clarified that it was a non military strike. By calling it a preemptive action, it has taken the diplomatic pressure off itself that it acted to take revenge or for retribution. It has instead made it an act of self defence. READ MORE 

16:08 (IST)26 Feb 2019
Punjab border districts on high alert

Punjab has put its border districts on high alert in the wake of the Indian Air Force's (IAF) strikes across the Line of Control, undertaken by India as a retaliatory measure in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack, Punjab Chief Minister's Office said. 

15:35 (IST)26 Feb 2019
Remain prepared for all eventualities: Pak PM Imran Khan tells country

Prime Minister Imran Khan asked armed forces and the people of Pakistan to remain "prepared for all eventualities" following a "non-military preemptive" strike by the Indian Air Force targeted at a Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Balakot. Pakistan's top security committee said India has "committed uncalled for aggression" and vowed to respond "at the time and place of its choosing"

15:19 (IST)26 Feb 2019
Maharashtra Assembly passes resolution congratulating armed forces

Maharashtra state legislature Assembly and council pass unanimous resolution congratulating armed forces for carrying out air strike on terror launch pads in Balakot. 

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told the assembly, " The entire nation is proud of our armed forces. We salute our armed forces courage and action. They ensured the martyrdom of our jawans was not in vain. We have once again proved our might."

15:15 (IST)26 Feb 2019
Jaish terrorists targeted in air strikes

Key Jaish e Mohammed terrorists targeted in today’s air strikes were Mufti Azhar Khan Kashmiri, head of Kashmir operations (pic 1) and Ibrahim Azhar (pic 2), the elder brother of Masood Azhar who was also involved in the IC-814 hijacking

14:58 (IST)26 Feb 2019
Govt briefs foreign diplomats

Foreign diplomats from the USA, UK, Russia, Australia,Indonesia, Turkey and six ASEAN nations were being briefed by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale on Indian air strike across LOC

14:40 (IST)26 Feb 2019
Pakistan drone shot down near Gujarat border

A Pakistani unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was on Tuesday shot down near the International Border in Kutch district of Gujarat, police sources said. Debris of the UAV was seen near Nanghatad village in Abdasa taluka of Kutch, they said.

On hearing a loud sound around 6 am, villagers went to the spot and found the debris of the UAV, the sources said. Asked if a Pakistani UAV had been shot down by the Indian armed forces, a police official, on condition of anonymity, said, "Such an incident has happened, we are investigating the matter." The official, however, refused to elaborate further. Read more

14:30 (IST)26 Feb 2019
China's reaction on India's Balakot strike

In its first reaction to India confirming a non-military preemptive strike on a major Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp in Balakot, Pakistan, China on Tuesday said that it hoped the two countries will maintain “restraint” and “do more to improve bilateral relations”.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said: “India and Pakistan are both important countries in South Asia. Sound relations and cooperation serve the interest of both countries for peace and stability in South Asia.” He added: “We hope the two countries can keep restraint and do more to improve bilateral relations.” Read more

14:13 (IST)26 Feb 2019
Won't let India bow down: PM Modi in Rajasthan

"I won't let India bow down. This is a promise that I make to you. I won't let the nation's name be erased. Rajasthan has given many brave soldiers to this nation. I bow to all you of you," Modi said

14:08 (IST)26 Feb 2019
India in safe hands: Modi hours after strike

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is addressing a gathering in Rajasthan. The rally comes hours after the strike. Reacting to the chants and slogans of the crowd, Modi says, "I understand your enthusiasm today. You are in a different mood." "I assure you that India is in safe hands," Modi said

13:15 (IST)26 Feb 2019
Pakistan says it has ‘right to retaliate, self-defence’; Imran Khan calls meeting

"India committed an act of aggression. It is a violation of the LoC. I consider it a violation of the LoC, and Pakistan his right to give a suitable response in self-defence," Pakistan's foreign minister said. Read more here

12:52 (IST)26 Feb 2019
India committed 'aggression': Pakistan foreign minister

Meanwhile, in Islamabad, Foreign Minister Qureshi said India has violated the LoC and Pakistan has the right to respond.

"First, they committed aggression against Pakistan today. It is a violation of the LoC. I consider it a violation of the LoC, and Pakistan his right to give a suitable response in self defence," he told reporters after an "emergency meeting" with high-level officials at the Foreign Office (FO) for consultations.

Union Minister Shekhawat was the first to tweet on the attacks from the government’s side. Opposition leaders Congress president Rahul Gandhi and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal tweeted saluting the armed forces.

On February 14, 40 CRPF jawans were killed in the worst-ever terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir. The attack took place after a suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden Maruti Eeco into a bus carrying CRPF personnel from Jammu to Srinagar. Terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed had claimed responsibility for the attack. The NIA is currently investigating the attack.

Reacting strongly to the Pulwama attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said those who committed the heinous act will pay “a heavy price”. “Those who did the heinous act will have to pay a heavy price. Those who supported it will definitely be punishment. To all my colleagues, in ruling and Opposition, it’s a sensitive time. We need to speak in one voice because this battle is for us to win. “We will face this together. We will not let those forces who want to destroy us be successful. We will not leave the dreams of those who died for us yesterday unfulfilled. If our neighbour thinks it can destabilise India, then it is making a big mistake,” PM Modi had said.

On February 25, announcing a major breakthrough in the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said that it had identified the owner of the vehicle that was used by the attacker who has been claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammed to be its recruit Adil Ahmed Dar. The NIA said Monday that the Maruti Eeco car was last sold on February 4, just 10 days before the attack, to one Sajjad Bhat, a resident of Bijbehara in Anantnag, who is now absconding and is suspected to have joined Jaish.

Interestingly, on Monday evening, PTI reported quoting Pakistan Army spokesperson Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor as saying that Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa met Air chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan and the two chiefs deliberated on operational environment including threat and response. "Both chiefs expressed satisfaction on readiness, coordination and synergy. Pakistan Armed Forces are fully prepared for a befitting response to any Indian aggression or misadventure," he added, PTI reported.

India's earlier surgical strike following Uri attack

On the intervening night of September 28-29, 2016, Indian Army carried out surgical strikes against terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), just eleven days after the Uri attack which had claimed the lives of 18 BSF soldiers. The army launched the attack targeting Pakistani terrorists positioned across the Line of Control. The then DGMO, Lt General Ranbir Singh, had announced on September 29 that India had conducted surgical strikes on terror pads along the LoC using ground forces and inflicted “significant casualties”.

On October 7, 2016, The Indian Express had reported graphic accounts provided by eyewitnesses living across the LoC of the surgical strikes, describing how bodies of those killed before dawn on September 29 were loaded onto trucks for secret burials. The eyewitnesses also described brief but intense fire engagements that destroyed makeshift buildings that housed terrorists, before they left for the last stage of their journeys across the LoC.

The surgical strikes were the first time the political leadership owned trans-LoC operations and marked a huge shift in the sanctity of the LoC as a de-facto international boundary. During the 1999 Kargil War, when the LoC had been respected as a not-to-be-crossed red line by the previous NDA government even though the Pakistan army had openly breached it.

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