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India's surgical strike against Pakistan: We are safe under Modi's decisive leadership, says Amit Shah; Opposition lauds IAF

India's pre-emptive strikes on terror camps in Pakistan were hailed Tuesday by leaders of various political parties, with the BJP asserting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's political will has made the difference while Congress chief Rahul Gandhi lauded the Indian Air Force.

A high alert was issued to all Indian air defence systems along the International Border and Line of Control (LoC) after the Indian Air Force carried out an operation at 3.56 am across the Line of Control (LoC) in Balakot in Muzaffarabad sector of Pakistan. Reports said 12 Mirage 2000 jets of IAF dropped 1,000 kilograms of bombs at terror launch pads across the LoC, completely destroying it.

Indian foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale said that India had targeted known terror camps — following specific intel inputs — located in deep forests away from the civilian population were targetted. Gokhale termed the strikes a non-military preemptive action and refused to take any further questions.

The operation comes amid heightened tension between India and Pakistan after the 14 February suicide attack by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad on a CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district, which killed 40 troopers.

Early on Tuesday, spokesperson for the Pakistani armed forces, Major General Asif Ghafoor tweeted that the IAF had violated the LoC, after which the Pakistan Air Force had "immediately scrambled", and that the Indian aircraft had "gone back". He tweeted again three hours later, saying that the IAF had "released payload in haste" while retreating.

The IAF operation immediately drew scores of reactions, both in India and Pakistan. Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan's party PTI, said that the Indian media's "beating of war drums" was disturbing.

Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi warned India "not to challenge" Pakistan. He said Pakistan "should not be worried" over the strike as "defenders of the country are fully prepared".

Qureshi was quoted by Radio Pakistan as saying, "Better sense should prevail in India. Our faith that God Almighty is the only supreme power. We are peace loving nation and have registered successes in the war on terrorism."

Pakistani journalist Mosharraf Zaidi asserted that the IAF strike wasn't in "Azad Kashmir" or Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) but in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

BJP president Amit Shah attributed the success of the IAF operation to Modi's 'decisive' leadership. He said, "Today’s action further demonstrates that India is safe and secure under the strong & decisive leadership of Narendra Modi."

Party leader Nitin Gadkari also echoed Shah's statement of the action ushering in a "New India".

Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted:

Follow LIVE updates on the IAF operation here

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis told reporters: "I'm proud of the Indian armed forces. They have shown Pakistan that the sacrifices of our CRPF jawans will not go to waste. I don't have adequate information, but based on reports, I know that the IAF has struck a blow to Jaish-e-Mohammed's camp."

BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said: "Every Indian who felt the pain and anguish of the sacrifice of our forces (in Pulwama) is greatly relieved and delighted this morning. Salute to the Air Force for a meticulous operation. Our forces are world class anyway. It is the political will of our prime minister and team that made all the difference."

Amid speculation over terror camps in whether Balakote in Poonch or the one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province were targeted, Madhav tweeted that it was the latter. "By the way no doubt about which Balakot it was; it is the one in Manshera district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa," he said.

BJP leader and Union minister Prakash Javdekar told reporters that people of Indian stood solidly behind their armed forces as he described the IAF strikes as an act of great valour. People have faith in Modi's leadership, Javadekar said.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said, "I salute the bravery of Indian Air Force pilots who have made us proud by striking terror targets in Pakistan."

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah had earlier brought to notice the confusion in reports about which Balakot had been struck, but after Foreign Secretary VK Gokhale confirmed that Balakote in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had been struck by the IAF, Abdullah said that it was a "strike deep inside" Pakistan, and that the incident was "hugely embarrassing" for the neighbouring country.

Former IAS officer from Kashmir, Shah Faesal listed a range of events as a result of the fallout after the Pulwama attack, ending with a question: Who lost and who gained?

Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh hailed it as a great job by the IAF. "The IAF strikes have sent the much needed signal to Pakistan and the terrorists it's harbouring - don't think you can get away with acts like the Pulwama Attack. Bravo to the IAF men and my full support for the action," he said

The Congress also lauded the IAF's "consistent and determined" operations.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee hailed the Indian "Amazing" Force for the operation.

Uttar Pradesh minister Sidharth Nath Singh said:

Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi said: "The IAF has gone beyond PoK and into Pakistan near their capital while they were busy counting alms received from Saudi and China."

"This is Modi's India," Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, MoS for agriculture said, promising adequate action against perpetrators of terrorism.

NCP leader Sharad Pawar said that a "befitting reply" had been given to "terrorists".

Makkal Neethi Maiam (MNM) president Kamal Hassan welcomed the IAF strikes on terror launch pads in Pakistan, and saluted the "valour" of the "heroes". The country was "proud of its heroes," he said. "Our 12 (apparently fighter jets) return safely home after wreaking havoc on terrorist camps in Pakistan. India is proud of its heroes. I salute their valour," he said. Actors like Ajay Devgn, Anupam Kher, and Abhishek Bachchan reacted with praise for the IAF:

Anupam Kher, responding to Rahul's tweet, said, "Today will be a good day to start saluting Prime Minister Narendra Modi too."

The operation comes amid heightened tension between India and Pakistan after the 14 February suicide attack by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad on a CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district, which killed 40 troopers.

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Updated Date: Feb 26, 2019 14:29:41 IST