IAF air strike: JeM was attempting more suicide attacks; pre-emptive strike was necessary, says Foreign secretary

India acted on credible intelligence information and destroyed the biggest jaish camp in the wee hours of Tuesday at Balakot, says Vijay Gokhale.
Vijay Gokhale, Foreign Secretary briefs media about the air strike in POK . (Express Photo | Parveen Negi.)
Vijay Gokhale, Foreign Secretary briefs media about the air strike in POK . (Express Photo | Parveen Negi.)

In a pre-dawn strike, IAF's Mirage 2000 fighter jets bombed terror camps in Balakot, Muzaffarabad and Chakoti, across the Line of Control in the Pakistani side, 12 days after Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group carried out the deadly Pulwama attack in Kashmir.

The attack comes in wake of a suicide bombing attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy in Pulwama on February 14 that killed 40 troopers. 

The attack was claimed by Pakistan-based militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), and prompted a spike in tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale called for a press meet to brief about the strike. Following is the detailed text of the statement by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale on the strike on Jaish-e-Mohammed's training camp:

On 14 February 2019, a suicide terror attack was conducted by a Pak based terrorist organization 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, and is led by Mazood Azhar with its headquarters in Bahawalpur.

This organization, which is proscribed by the UN, has been responsible of 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 PoJK 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 jidhadis could not have functioned without the knowledge of Pakistan authorities.

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 Maulana Yousuf 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 the 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.

(With inputs from PTI)

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