India claims to have struck 'biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot'

Published February 26, 2019
India's Foreign Secretary VK Gokhale. — AFP
India's Foreign Secretary VK Gokhale. — AFP

India's Foreign Secretary VK Gokhale on Tuesday claimed that the country's air force "struck the biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in Balakot".

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Gokhale said "a large number of JeM terrorists were killed".

"The strike avoided civil casualties," he alleged.

Early on Tuesday, Inter-Services Public Relations' (ISPR) Major-General Asif Ghafoor said that Indian military planes violated the Line of Control (LoC), intruding from the Muzaffarabad sector. "Facing timely and effective response from Pakistan Air Force released payload in haste while escaping which fell near Balakot."

"Credible intel [intelligence] was received that JeM was planning more suicide attacks in India," alleged the Indian official. "In the face of imminent danger, a preemptive strike became absolutely necessary."

"Top commanders were eliminated in the strike," he said, adding "the action took place just hours ago".

Dawn Exclusive: A time for restraint

However, Balakot police chief Saghir Hussain Shah told The Associated Press that he had sent teams to the area — which he described as a mostly deserted wooded area — who found "no casualties, no damages on the ground because of the dropping of the bombs”.

"Information has been provided to Pakistan from time to time [...] Pakistan has taken no concrete action," Gokhale alleged. The purported 'action' by India comes only days after Prime Minister Imran Khan reiterated his offer that if India provides Pakistan with "actionable intelligence" regarding the February 14 attack in occupied Kashmir's Pulwama, "we will immediately act”.

"This facility at Balakot was headed by Maulana Yousuf Azhar (alias Ustad Ghouri), the brother-in-law of Masood Azhar, Chief of JeM," according to Gokhale. He, however, did not provide any evidence to back claims of the alleged camp being destroyed.

Prior to the press conference, India's Cabinet Committee on Security met at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s residence in New Delhi, Asian News International reported.

According to Indian media reports, Modi briefed Indian President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu after the meeting. Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj has also called an all-parties meeting at 5pm (India time).

Opinion

Biden’s world
Updated 27 Jan 2021

Biden’s world

Biden’s America is not going to be one that once again throws open visas so that the world’s brightest can easily immigrate.
The PDM’s predicament
Updated 27 Jan 2021

The PDM’s predicament

The interests and stakes of the parties in the alliance are too diverse for them to maintain unity of action for a longer period.

Editorial

Updated 27 Jan 2021

Pemra’s powers

The right to freedom of expression has been curtailed to such an extent that it invites comparisons with martial law times.
27 Jan 2021

Increasing debt

THE numbers released by the State Bank regarding the government’s domestic debt stock and servicing at the end of...
27 Jan 2021

Women in conflict

“WHEN the guns fall silent, it does not mean the suffering of women and girls stops. The suffering and abuse that...
Pakistan-US ties
Updated 26 Jan 2021

Pakistan-US ties

The US remains the world’s most powerful country, one Pakistan cannot afford to ignore.
26 Jan 2021

NAB not impartial

NAB CHAIRMAN retired justice Javed Iqbal has claimed that his organisation is an unbiased anti white-collar-crime...
26 Jan 2021

Pakistan-South Africa series

IN what is seen as a rare instance, Pakistan start as the underdogs on their home turf when they take on South ...