News18 Daybreak | Joint Parliament Session, NCA Meeting in Pakistan Today After Indian Strike and Other Stories You Need to Watch Out For
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JeM facility destroyed by Indian Ar Force strikes in Balakot, Pakistan. (Image: Twitter/ANI)
What to Watch Out For
Pakistan calls for joint Parliament session, NCA meeting following India strike
A joint session of the Pakistan parliament and a National Command Authority (NCA) meeting will take place on Wednesday following yesterday’s Indian Airforce strike at the biggest Jaish-e-Mohammed camp.
India on Tuesday morning carried out an aerial bombing at the training camp in Pakistan, the first since the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war. The targeted strike lasted for two minutes and involved 12 Mirage-2000 fighter jets pounding the camp with 1,000 kg of laser guided-bombs.
The two sides have since exchanged accusations over the number of casualties. While Pakistan has said that no damage or casualties occurred, sources of the Indian side have put the number around 300.
The “non-military preemptive strike” comes amid escalating tensions between India and Pakistan over the Pulwama terror attack carried out by the Pakistan-based terror outfit on a CRPF convoy. The attack claimed the lives of 40 CRPF personnel.
The defence: The only official confirmation from India on the strike came in a press conference by the foreign security secretary Vijay Gokhale, who confirmed the news of the attack and said that the camp was located in Balakot. Gokhale did not elaborate further, however, according to sources, the camp is about 80 km from the Line of Control (LoC) and near Abbottabad where Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was killed in hiding by covert US forces
Gokhale said that the strikes were carried out on “the biggest training camp in Balakot”, which he said was being run by Maulana Yusuf Azhar, the brother-in-law of JeM chief, Maulana Masood Azhar.
Meanwhile, PM Modi’s only remark on the matter came in a campaign rally address in Churu, Rajasthan. Modi’s speech carried the clear message for his constituents that the BJP government at the Centre wouldn’t take terror attacks engineered by non-state actors in Pakistan lying down.
"I want to assure you, the people of the country that India is in safe hands,” PM Modi said while standing in front of a poster with the photographs of the 40 CRPF personnel who lost their lives in the February 14 attack.
The Prime Minister did not elaborate on the strike and only focused on domestic issues, reiterating that the choice for upcoming Lok Sabha polls was clear.
The retaliation: Pakistan issued a veiled threat to India in response to the strike, with DG ISPR General Asif Ghasoor saying that they would definitely respond.
“Wait for the surprise. The response will come. It is your turn now. Get ready to be surprised. The response will come differently,” said Ghafoor.
While there has not been an official response from Imran Khan, in a special meeting of the National Security Committee, the Pakistan PM is said to have asked the armed forces and the people of Pakistan to remain prepared for all eventualities.
The body went as far as to reject what they called was "India's claim" of targeting a terrorist camp near Balakot.
“Once again Indian government has resorted to a self-serving, reckless and fictitious claim," said a statement issued after the NSC meeting in Islamabad.
The country's top security body "concluded that India has committed uncalled for aggression to which Pakistan shall respond at the time and place of its choosing," it added.
Pakistan Foreign Minister SM Qureshi on Tuesday told the media that what India did was a ‘misadventure’ against Pakistan.
“I will call it a grave aggression. We had warned the world that such an act can take place. Today they carried out this misadventure against Pakistan. This is a violation of the Line of Control. Pakistan reserves the right to an adequate response and a right to self-defence,” Qureshi said.
A strike back: Meanwhile, hours after the strike five Army soldiers were injured as Pakistani army took to heavy mortar shelling on 55 forward areas in Jammu, Rajouri and Poonch districts on Tuesday.
The army took to firing 120-mm mortar targeting civilian hamlets and forward posts since 5.30 pm.
They fired from small, automatic and heavy weaponry in Krishna Gati, Balakote, Khari Karmara, Mankote, Tarkundi areas in Poonch district; Kalal, Baba Khori, Kalsian, Laam and Jhangar areas in Rajouri; and Pallanwala and Laleali sub-sectors in Jammu, officials said.
Picking sides: India found an ally in France who said that it stood by New Delhi in its fight against terror “in all its forms” following the strike.
"France recognises India's legitimacy to ensure its security against cross-border terrorism and asks Pakistan to put an end to the operations of terrorist groups established on its territory," the French government said in a statement.
The Australian government also urged Pakistan to take "urgent and meaningful action against terrorist groups in its territory.
“Pakistan must do everything possible to implement its own proscription of Jaish-e-Mohammed. It can no longer allow extremist groups the legal and physical space to operate from its territory," the Australian government said in a press release.
The European Union (EU), however, called for 'maximum restraint' from India, Pakistan after the airstrike.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang also expressed their hope that both countries “exercise” restraint and do “more to improve their bilateral relations”.
"We hope that both India and Pakistan can exercise restraint and do more to improve mutual their bilateral relations,” he told the media in Beijing.
Back at home, the strike was hailed by experts and opposition party leaders of the India side as several senior party leaders including Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal hailed the operation.
"I salute the pilots of the IAF,” Rahul tweeted soon after the news broke while the Aam Admi Party chief congratulated the Force saying that they, “made us proud by striking terror targets in Pakistan.”
What next: External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has raised the matters of the Pulwama terror attack and the air strike in the bilateral meetings with foreign ministers of China and Russia during RIC meeting in Beijing today.
Meanwhile, all eyes will remain on the Pakistani side with the vital NCA meeting taking place today. The NCA is the body which oversees Islamabad’s nuclear weapons programme. Pakistan has invoked its nuclear capabilities in the past as well when tensions between the two countries escalated.
The IAF strike in the Pakistani territory is being described as the "surgical strikes 2.0", following suit from the 2016 surgical strike. However, News18's Debayan Roy explains why the IAF Strike in Pakistan’s Balakot is bigger and unprecedented.
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