While the whole India saluted the Indian Air Force for its massive air raids across LOC on Jaish camp in Pakistan- held Jammu and Kashmir and the Foreign Secretary said the terrorist camp had been destroyed in an action based on credible information to pre-empt another terrorist attack, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said the impact would depend on which Balakote had been targetted.
Here is the full text of the nuanced statement by the Foreign Secretary on the strike on JeM training camp at Balakote:
“On 14 February 2019, a suicide terror attack was conducted by a Pak based terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad, leading to the martyrdom of 40 brave jawans of the CRPF. JeM has been active in Pakistan for the last two decades. This organization, which is proscribed by the UN, has been responsible for a series of terrorist attacks including on the Indian Parliament in December 2001 and the Pathankot airbase in January 2016.
Information regarding the location of training camps in Pakistan and PoK has been provided to Pakistan from time to time. Pakistan, however, denies their existence. The existence of such massive training facilities capable of training hundreds of jihadis could not have functioned without the knowledge of Pakistan authorities by Masood Azhar with its headquarters in Bahawalpur.
India has been repeatedly urging Pakistan to take action against the JeM to prevent jihadis from being trained and armed inside Pakistan. Pakistan has taken no concrete actions to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism on its soil.
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 preemptive strike became absolutely necessary.
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 jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated. This facility at Balakot was headed by MaulaYousuf Azhar (alias ustad Ghouri), the brother-in-law of Masood Azhar, Chief of JeM.
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. The selection of the target was also conditioned by our desire to avoid civilian casualties. The facility is located in thick forest on a hilltop far away from any civilian presence. As the strike has taken place only a short while ago, we are awaiting further details.
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.
In a series of tweets, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference vice-presidentr Omar Abdullah said it was difficult to assess the impact of the air action unless we know which Balakote is being talked about.
He asid:"If this is Balakote in KPK (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) it's a major incursion and a significant strike by IAF planes. However, if it's Balakote in Poonch sector, along the LoC it's a largely symbolic strike because at this time of the year forward launch pads and militant camps are empty and non-functional.,"
He continued: “A number of firsts from Balakote, the two most obvious are the first time air power has been used to strike inside Pakistan during peace times (last time in 1971 was during war) & first time visible, acknowledged use of force to preempt a perceived terror strike.
“We’ve entered a whole new paradigm with the Balakote air strike. The post Uri strike was to avenge our losses, Balakote was a “preemptive strike to prevent an imminent JeM attack”. Totally new ball game.
“Now we have an obligation to ensure that our people living near the international border & line of control are not caught in any Pakistani response. Local administrations need to be ready to evacuate & rehouse people to safe areas if situation escalates”, Omar Abdullah said..
“I’m in touch with my party colleagues in frontier areas to lend all possible help & assistance, both to the administration as well as to any people caught up in any Pakistani misadventure “he concluded.