IAF air strikes: Pakistan says ‘fully prepared to respond’ to India’s ‘grave aggression’
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, the ruling party, said Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked the Army and people to be ready for any eventuality.
Pakistan on Tuesday warned India against challenging Islamabad, adding that the country is “fully prepared to respond” to any misadventure. The Narendra Modi government has confirmed that the Indian armed forces had carried out a “non-military preemptive action” against the biggest camp of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed militant outfit earlier in the day.
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, the country’s ruling party, said on Twitter that during a National Security Committee meeting, headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan, the members rejected India’s claim that it struck a terrorist camp in Balakote. “Once again Indian government has resorted to a self serving, reckless and fictitious claim,” the party asserted.
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf claimed that India had carried out the operation because the Narendra Modi-led government was desperate to win the Lok Sabha elections, likely to be held in April and May. “The claimed area of strike is open for the world to see the facts on ground,” the party said. It said that domestic and international media is being taken to the area to verify India’s claims.
“The forum [committee] concluded that India committed uncalled for aggression to which Pakistan shall respond at the time and place of its choosing,” the party said. “To take the nation on board, the government has decided to requisition a joint session of Parliament.”
The party said Imran Khan has called a meeting of the National Command Authority, which oversees Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, on February 27. “The prime minister has directed that elements of national power including the Armed Forces and the people of Pakistan to remain prepared for all eventualities,” the party added.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf also said that Khan has decided to speak to world leaders to “expose irresponsible Indian policy” in the region.
“I will term it [the Indian operation] a grave aggression,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters. “The attack is a violation of the Line of Control. Pakistan holds the right to self-defence and proper response.”
Qureshi also said that better sense should prevail in India. He asked Pakistani citizens not to worry over the Indian operation as the country was prepared for a response.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf quoted Qureshi as saying that the Indian government was in dire need of a win in the upcoming elections and had “selfishly enough” created unrest in the entire region. “Pakistan will use all international forums to expose India while being ready to retaliate to any aggression,” Qureshi said, according to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf said there was a “desperation across the border” as it was an election year. “Fact of the matter is, Indian jets were forced to retreat in haste by Pakistan Army patrols, and dumped fuel, which in their scramble they thought was a bomb,” it added.
India’s Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale on Tuesday said that the forces had carried out the operation after receiving credible intelligence that the terror outfit was attempting suicide attacks in various parts of the country. Gokhale said the strikes had targeted Jaish-e-Mohammed’s biggest training camp in Balakot, headed by Maulana Yousuf Azhar alias Ustad Ghouri, who is the brother-in-law of the outfit’s chief Masood Azhar.
The Jaish-e-Mohammed had claimed responsibility for the February 14 terror attack in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir, in which 40 jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force were killed.
In the first air strike by India across the Line of Control since 1971, a dozen Mirage 2000 jets of the Indian Air Force destroyed a terror camp across the Line of Control before dawn on Tuesday, reports said.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Pakistani Army alleged that the Indian Air Force had violated the Line of Control in Muzaffarabad sector. The Pakistan Air Force “immediately scrambled”, Pakistan’s Director-General Inter-Services Public Relations Major General Asif Ghafoor said, adding that the Indian aircraft then returned.
In another tweet, Ghafoor said Indian forces faced “timely and effective response” from the Pakistan Air Force and ended up releasing “payload in haste while escaping, which fell near Balakot”. Payload is the capacity of an aircraft to carry items, including passengers, an explosive warhead or cargo.
He also said that the payload fell in an open area, and that there were no casualties. The Indian intrusion was around “three to four miles” in the Muzaffarabad sector, he said.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf also took potshots on the Indian media, calling it “irresponsible”. “Beating the war drums shows a disturbing bloodlust and deteriorating mindset at a time when Pakistan is on an upward trajectory,” the party tweeted about the Indian media. “Indian jets scrambled back from Balakot which lies close to the LOC.”
In another tweet, the party said the Indian media was suffering “side effects of Bollywood” that may have “induced hallucinations and delusions of grandeur”.