IAF struck across LoC and killed terrorists of Jaish camp in Balakot of Pakistan. India's Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said it was a "non-military, pre-emptive strike" specifically targeted at the Jaish-e-Mohammed camp and the "selection of the target was also conditioned by our desire to avoid civilian casualties."
A "very large number of Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists" were killed in the pre-dawn air strikes by the Indian Air Force across the Line of Control (LoC) on 26 February, two weeks after 40 soldiers were killed in a terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama.
Twelve Mirage 2000 jets dropped 1,000 kg bombs on the terror training camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammad, which had claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack. Mr Gokhale said Jaish had been active in Pakistan for the last two decades, led by Masood Azhar with its headquarters in Bahawalpur.
"Credible intelligence was received that JeM was attempting another suicide terror attack in various 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," said Mr Gokhale.
"The Government of Pakistan had made a solemn commitment in January 2004 not to allow its soil or territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India. We expect that Pakistan lives up to its public commitment and takes follow up actions to dismantle all JeM and other camps and hold the terrorists accountable for the actions," he said.
The successful strike at Balakot on a dark night by a group of combat aircrafts was the very first pre-emptive strike ordered by the government since Independence. The shooting down of a Pakistani F-16 by Wing Commander Abhinandan with his MIG-21 -- the first-ever Indian pilot to do so -- is of historical significance.
It also marks the first MIG-21 kill of the legendary F-16 in the world, and ushers in a new era of air warriors snapping the umbilical cord tying them to old traditions and constraints regarding aerial combat. This coincides with the Indian Air Force attaining maturity through global exposure, improved infrastructure, upgraded machines etc, as a result of friendly relationships with foreign air forces and exercising with them.
It may be mentioned India is now the fourth largest armed force and fifth largest fastest growing economy of the world. It will occupy the third position of world economy in 2030 and will reach the top position in 2050. On the other hand, Pakistan is 44th in economic position while 17th in armed forces.
The IAF has set up fine institutions over the last two decades. They now have excellent infrastructure and support systems, and modern electronic displays and automated systems in the operations room. They now have proven capabilities that can match the large modern Air Forces of the world. It is mentionable 87% Pakistan is under satellite control.
Leaders from different political parties have also reacted to the strike. Political parties appeared to have united once again after the February 14 Pulwama terror attack in lauding the IAF. Congress President Rahul Gandhi, party leader Shashi Tharoor, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal tweeted congratulating the armed forces for striking terror camps.
There is a confusion regarding damage and number of persons killed. The Italian journalist reported that after the attack the area had been encircled and 30 to 35 dead bodies were removed, sources close to administration informed it.
Residents in several towns in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province told BBC Urdu they were woken by loud explosions early on 26 February. On 14 February, 40 Indian paramilitary police were killed in a militant operation there. It was the deadliest attack on Indian forces in Kashmir for decades. The assault was claimed by Pakistan-based JeM, and prompted a spike in tensions.
When Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba staged a sophisticated terror attack in 2008 in Mumbai - striking the main train stations and two luxury hotels - Narendra Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat, raced to the Oberoi Hotel, where Indian security forces were battling the militants.
Although Indians were clamoring for a military strike on Pakistan to revenge the assault, which claimed 166 lives, the then prime minister Manmohan Singh exercised extreme restraint and eschewed talk of retribution. Standing outside the Oberoi, Modi lashed out at Pakistan.
Twelve days after 40 Indian paramilitaries were killed by a Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber in Kashmir, Modi authorized an airborne missile strike on Pakistani territory - the first Indian use of air power against its neighbor since the two countries went to war in 1971.
The message, says one Indian official, was clear: India, with its growing affluence and superpower aspirations, would no longer remain idle if attacked by terrorists harbored by Islamabad. "February 26th," the official says, "marked the end of strategic restraint when it comes to counter-terrorism." After India's strike, Pakistan retaliated, sending planes to attack military installations in India.
Tensions still remain high, however, with Modi touting his new aggressiveness on the campaign trail. "This is a new India," he declared at a large political rally. "This is an India that will return the damage done by terrorists - with interest." And even if this particular episode passes, political analysts will be trying to assess how the bitter and volatile relationship between two nuclear-armed neighbors may evolve after their worst outbreak of hostilities in decades.
Enmity between New Delhi and Islamabad is dated back to 1947 when the subcontinent was partitioned into Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. Since then, the two have fought three times over the Muslim-majority Kashmir region. Modern state and democracy is the remarkable achievement of the human civilization.
Modern state and democracy are inseparable, religion is separated from state. In this system all the citizens irrespective of region, color, gender, cultures are getting equal rights, equal status and equal opportunity. Spirit of religion is also equality and brotherhood.
But Pakistan's state system is based on religion for vested interest. The state system of Pakistan and politics are patronizing terrorism, militancy and fundamentalism by using Islam.
The effects are multidimensional: The non Muslims had been marginalized and forced to leave the country -- it is mentionable in 1947 the percentage was 12 now it is four, militant and terrorist groups are very active -- they are attacking frequently in different places; even mosques are not safe.
The militant and terrorist groups are creating problems in Kashmir, Afghanistan and other regions. Pakistan is interfering into the trial against humanity '71' of Bangladesh. In 1971, India used its military to help Bangladesh's freedom fighters and eastern wing got liberated to become independent Bangladesh.
The two nation theory based on religion has been proved has obsolete and outdated. It is mentionable nearly four hundred years ago, nation state based on language and culture had been established in Europe after a long war. In 1972 after victory of 1971 Sheikh Abdullah and Dr. Faruk Abdullah accepted inclusion of Kashmir in democratic India. India is now a federal democratic state having 29 states based on language and culture. It is praised in the world as a biggest democratic country. There were movements and contradiction in different parts of the India but all problems have been solved democratically.
So, Kashmir issue in the name of religion and fundamentalism is against democracy and progress not only in the subcontinent but also in the world. But since the 1990s, Pakistan's military establishment, particularly its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, has relied on orthodox tactics to bleed its bigger neighbor: using Islamist militants to conduct suicidal terror attacks, both in Kashmir, and major Indian cities.
The leading actors in this asymmetric warfare have been Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Righteous) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (Army of Mohammad), and both close to the ISI. For two decades, the LeT and JeM - which openly recruit and train up jihadis in Pakistan despite their UN designation as terror groups - have carried out numerous attacks in India, including a 2001 assault on India's parliament and the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Pakistan claims the missiles fell harmlessly on to a hillside and caused little damage. The source categorically denied that the action was in response to Indian pressure after the Pulwama incident and said the decision had been taken much before the Feb 14 attack on Indian security forces in Pulwama, although it became public later.
The dossier given by India on the Pulwama attack, he maintained, contained nothing except an iteration of its narrative on alleged Pakistan-based groups."We are taking action in our national interest. We have to correct the course. We cannot leave this mess for our next generation," the source said, adding that the "existing political consensus within the country was an opportunity to take Pakistan on the positive track".
Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and is a matter strictly internal to India, New Delhi said after the OIC criticized India on Kashmir in a resolution of 57 countries. The resolution came after External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj as the guest of honor spoke at OIC meeting.
She asked the OIC to act together to combat global terrorism. She mention if we want to save humanity, we must tell the states who provide, shelter and funding to terrorists to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorist camps and stop providing shelters and funding to the terror organizations. It is the first time India EXM was visited as special guest in OIC meeting.
USA, UK, France and other democratic countries put pressure on Pakistan to take actions against terrorists. China also called upon India and Pakistan to look ahead and turn the current dip in their ties into an opportunity to fundamentally improve their relationship through dialogue.
Pakistan Prime minister Imran Khan said no group would be allowed to operate from Pakistani soil to carry out attacks abroad after his government announced a sweeping crackdown against Islamists militancy organizations. It is reported 182 religious schools run by banned groups had been seized and more than 120 people detained.
We expect Pakistan will separate religion from state and politics- even Supreme Court also has given opinion for that. Only then, as a modern state Pakistan will be able to negotiate with India, Bangladesh and others properly. Political parties have the links with the Indian political parties. They can interact regularly including civil society. So negotiations in different tracts will strengthen the relation to ensure peace and prosperity.
The writer is a former
ambassador, an academic
and freedom fighter
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