India refuses to share proof of air strikes in Balakot

Published March 3, 2019
Some Indian opposition leaders have asked the government to share evidence of the strikes.— ISPR/File
Some Indian opposition leaders have asked the government to share evidence of the strikes.— ISPR/File

NEW DELHI: A top Indian minister said on Saturday the government would not share proof that “a very large number of militants” were killed in air strikes inside Pakistan this week, after doubts were raised there were any casualties in the attack that stoked tensions between the two countries.

The flare up appeared to be easing on Saturday after Pakistan handed back a captured Indian fighter pilot on Friday night, amid efforts by global powers to prevent another war between the two states.

NEW DELHI: Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (centre) talking to Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman of the Indian Air Force at a hospital on Saturday.—AP
NEW DELHI: Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (centre) talking to Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman of the Indian Air Force at a hospital on Saturday.—AP

However, shelling across the Line of Control continued, said military officials on both sides.

On Tuesday, Indian warplanes carried out air strikes inside Balakot on what New Delhi alleged were militant camps. Islamabad denied any such camps existed, as did local villagers in the area when Reuters visited.

On Wednesday, Pakistan retaliated with its own aerial mission.

Pakistan said the Indian bombs hit a largely empty hillside without hurting anyone. Some Indian opposition leaders have asked the government to share evidence of the strikes.

Take a look: India speaks in riddles after Imran’s peace gesture

But India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s top lieutenants, said “no security agencies ever share operational details”.

“It’s a very irresponsible stand,” Jaitley said at a conference organised by the India Today media group.

“The armed forces must have, and our security and intelligence agencies must have, a full leeway in dealing with situations, and if anybody wants operational details to be made public ... he certainly does not understand the system.”

Jaitley dismissed suggestions that the rapid escalation in tensions with Pak­is­tan had anything to do with India’s domestic politics ahead of a general election due by May. Pollsters expect the ruling party to benefit from the nationalistic passion sweeping the country.

Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman crossed into India from Pakistan at Wagah on Friday night in a high-profile handover shown on live television.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman met Abhinan­dan at a New Delhi defence hospital on Saturday, where he was seen in his air force jumpsuit. He will undergo medical checks before re-joining active duty, officials said. The pilot debriefed the minister about his detention in Pakistan.

Pakistan presented Abhi­nandan’s return “as a goodwill gesture aimed at de-escalating rising tensions with India” after weeks of unease that threatened to spiral into war. Global powers, including China and the United States, have urged restraint to prevent another conflict bet­ween the neighbours.

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2019

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 ...