India calls its air strike across border 'non-military' and 'pre-emptive'

India calls its air strike across border
# 26 February 2019 12:02 (UTC +04:00)

India's Ministry of External Affairs has referred to the Tuesday morning air strike in Balakot, located across the line-of-control (LoC) in Pakistan-administered-Kashmir, as a ‘non-military' and preemptive move, adding that the Indian Air Force had ensured that there were no civilian casualties in the strike, which aimed to neutralise what India has described as the biggest terrorist training camp operated by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), ONA reports.

"In an intelligence-led operation in the early hours of today, India struck the biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot. In this operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadists who were being trained for fidayeen activities were eliminated," Gokhale said, while emphasising that the move was necessary, as Pakistan hadn't taken action despite the fact that it had known about the group's activities for a long time.

This facility at Balakot, situated around 80 kilometres away from Line of Control (de-facto border), was headed by Maulana Yusuf Azhar, alias Ustad Ghouri, the brother-in-law of Masood Azhar, chief of JeM.

India's External Affairs ministry emphasised that New Delhi had been repeatedly urging Islamabad to take action against JeM and put a stop to the training and arming of jihadis from inside Pakistan. Pakistan has not taken any concrete action to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism on its soil, it claimed.

"The Government of India is firmly and resolutely committed to taking all necessary measures to fight the menace of terrorism.  Hence this non-military preemptive action was specifically targeted at the JeM camp," Gokhale said.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will hold an emergency meeting at 11 am on Tuesday, according to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

On 14 February, a suicide attack was conducted by the Pakistan-based terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad, leading to the killing of 40 Indian soldiers.

After the attack, India blamed Pakistan for harbouring and protecting terrorists, accusing the country of having a "direct hand" in the incident. As a punitive measure, India has withdrawn Pakistan's most-favoured nation (MFN) status and raised customs duties on goods imported from Pakistan to 200 percent.

Pakistan has, in turn, rejected the allegations of its involvement in the attack and said that this was New Delhi's strategy to divert international attention from human rights violations taking place in the Kashmir region.