Though External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj only reiterated on Thursday that India had avoided civilian and military casualties during the Balakote air strike across the Line of Control, Pakistan sought to use her statement to propagate “their version” of the attack. Major General Asif Ghafoor, the DG of Pakistan Army’s Inter-Services Public Relations wing, tweeted, “Finally the truth under ground reality compulsions. Hopefully, so will be about other false Indian claims ie surgical strike 2016, denial of shooting down of 2 IAF jets by PAF and claim about F16. Better late than never.”
Finally the truth under ground reality compulsions. Hopefully, so will be about other false Indian claims ie surgical strike 2016, denial of shooting down of 2 IAF jets by PAF and claim about F16. Better late than never.#TruthPrevails#PakistanZindabad https://t.co/Kim8CZTdlJ
— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) April 18, 2019
Choosing “non-military” targets — in this case, Jaish-e-Mohammed-run terror camps — India had struck about 80 km away from the Line of Control in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on February 26. Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had then said the “selection of the target was conditioned by India’s desire to avoid civilian casualties”. “The facility is located in thick forest on a hilltop far away from any civilian presence,” he had said.
Watch EAM Sushma Swaraj say, ‘No Pakistani soldier or citizen died during Balakot air strike’
On Thursday, Sushma Swaraj only reiterated India’s position that the attack was carried out in self-defence and avoided civilian and military casualties. “When we carried out air strike across the border after the Pulwama terror attack, we had told the international community that we took that step in self-defence only. We had told the international community that the armed forces were instructed not to harm any Pakistani citizen or its soldier during the strike. The Army was told to target only the terror camps of the Jaish-e-Mohammad, which had taken the responsibility for the Pulwama attack. And our Army did the same without harming any Pakistani citizen or soldier,” she had said.
The IAF had struck a Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot area on February 26, in response to the February 14 Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.