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Pulwama payback: India pounds JeM terror camps in Pakistan

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on February 26, 2019

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale addresses a press conference, in New Delhi, on February 26, 2019.   -  Kamal Narang

New Delhi hopes Islamabad would walk the talk and destroy other such facilities

India carried out a “non-military pre-emptive’’ air strike on one of the biggest training camps of terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot in Pakistan on Tuesday in response to information received that more terror attacks were being planned by the outfit across the country, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said on Tuesday.

The strike carried out on JeM camps in both Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir in the early hours of the day was primarily triggered by the recent suicide attack in Pulwama, Jammu & Kashmir, which killed 40 jawans of the CRPF. The banned terror outfit claimed responsibility for the attack.

“Credible information had been received that the JeM was planning other suicide terror attacks in other parts of the country and the fidayeen jihadis were being trained for this purpose. In the face of imminent danger, a pre-emptive strike became absolutely necessary,” Gokhale said, addressing the media.

In this operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis, who were being trained for fidayeen action, were eliminated, he added.

“The Foreign Secretary and other Secretaries in the Ministry of External Affairs are briefing envoys, including those from the US, the UK, Russia, China, France and Germany, on the attack,” another official said.

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, who held an all-party meeting following the strike, said that she was happy that all parties had praised the security forces in one voice and expressed full support for the government’s anti-terror operations.

Call for restraint

Reacting to India’s bombing of terrorist camps, Australia, France, the European Union and China called for restraint from both countries. Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, in a statement, categorically asked Pakistan to take “urgent and meaningful action’’ against terrorist groups in its territory, including the JeM.

India now hopes that Pakistan would do its bit in destroying other such terror camps in its country. “Pakistan made a commitment in January 2004 not to allow its soil or territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India. We expect Pakistan to live up to its commitment and take follow-up action to destroy all JeM and other camps and hold the terrorists accountable for their actions,” Gokhale said.

The Foreign Secretary emphasised that the selection of targets was influenced by India’s desire to avoid civilian casualties. “The facility (which was targeted) is located in thick forest on a hilltop far away from any civilian presence,” he said.

Swaraj, who will take part in the Russia-India-China trilateral meeting in Wuzhen, China, on Wednesday, is likely to discuss the issue of cross-border terrorism in the meeting with her counterparts from China and Russia. The JeM, which is proscribed by the United Nations, has been responsible for a series of terrorist attacks including on Parliament in 2001 and the Pathankot airbase in January 2016, Gokhale pointed out. “Information regarding the location of training camps in Pakistan and in PoK has been provided to Pakistan from time to time. Pakistan, however, denied their existence,” Gokhale said.

On Tuesday, the benchmark BSE Sensex ended 240 points lower as investor sentiment weakened after the India carried out air strikes on a terrorist camp in Pakistan.

 

To read the full text of Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale's speech, click here.

 

To watch the video of the speech, click here.

Published on February 26, 2019

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