External Affairs Minister and India foreign minister leader Sushma Swaraj on Thursday said no Pakistani soldier or citizen died in the air strike carried out by the Indian Air Force across the border in response to the Pulwama terror attack in February.
The IAF had struck a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot area on February 26, in response to the February 14 Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.
Ms Swaraj said the air strike was carried out in self-defence.
“When we carried out air strike across the border after the Pulwama terror attack, we had told the international community that we took that step in self-defence only.
“We had told the international community that the armed forces were instructed not to harm any Pakistani citizen or its soldier during the strike,” she said.
“The Army was told to target only the terror camps of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, which had taken the responsibility for the Pulwama attack.
“And, our Army did the same without harming any Pakistani citizen or soldier,” said Ms Swaraj.
Pakistan Inter-Service Public Relation (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor responded to After Indian, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s statement by saying that finally truth underground reality compulsions.
In his tweet, the ISPR director general said that underground realities made force India to speak the truth.
“Finally the truth under ground reality compulsions. Hopefully, so will be about other false Indian claims ie surgical strike 2016, denial of shooting down of 2 IAF jets by PAF and claim about F16. Better late than never,” Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor tweeted.
Finally the truth under ground reality compulsions. Hopefully, so will be about other false Indian claims ie surgical strike 2016, denial of shooting down of 2 IAF jets by PAF and claim about F16. Better late than never.#TruthPrevails#PakistanZindabad https://t.co/Kim8CZTdlJ
— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) April 18, 2019
India claimed that “a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis” were eliminated who were preparing for launching another suicide attack targeting Indian assets. Indian media reported that the camp was levelled, and about 200–350 JeM militants were killed through the exact figures varied across media-houses.
The claims were probably derived from defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who pegged the count at over 300 whilst engaging reporters after a press conference, on the morning of the attack.
In contrast, Pakistan asserted that there were no casualties or infrastructure damage as a result of the attack.
Neutral sources assert that the munitions appear to have hit several trees in a wooded area and not much else. They also claim that there appear to be no casualties in the area where the attack took place.
The western diplomat also claims that they did not believe that the Indian Air Force had hit any militant camp.
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The 2019 Balakot airstrike was conducted by India in the early morning hours of February 26 when Indian warplanes crossed the de facto border in Kashmir, a disputed region which is claimed by both countries, and large parts of which are controlled by each country. The warplanes dropped bombs in the vicinity of the town of Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan, several miles inside the province’s boundary with Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
Pakistan’s military, the first to announce the airstrike on February 26 morning, described the Indian planes as dropping their payload in an uninhabited wooded hilltop area near Balakot.
India, confirming the airstrike later the same day, characterized it to be a preemptive strike directed against a terrorist training camp, and causing the deaths of a “large number” of terrorists.
The following day, February 27, in a tit-for-tat airstrike, Pakistan retaliated, causing an Indian warplane to be shot down and it’s pilot to be taken prisoner by the Pakistan military before being returned on March 1.
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The airstrikes were the first time since the India-Pakistan war of 1971 that warplanes of either country crossed the Line of Control and also since both states have become nuclear powers.