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Surgical Strike updates: Mumbai, Ambala on high alert; Australia says Pakistan must act against terror groups

Surgical Strike LIVE updates: The naval base at Ambala air base and Mumbai naval base have been put on high alert. Meanwhile, Australian foreign affairs minister Marise Payne said, 'Pakistan must take urgent and meaningful action against terrorist groups in its territory, including Jaish-e-Mohammed which has claimed responsibility for the 14 February bombing, and Lashkar-e-Taiba.'

FP Staff February 26, 2019 17:47:32 IST
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Surgical Strike updates: Mumbai, Ambala on high alert; Australia says Pakistan must act against terror groups
  • Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told the media that the non-military pre-emptive strike in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir's Balakot area was aimed solely at the Jaish-e-Mohammad and its leaders Masood Azhar

  • Sources at the Ministry of External Affairs told Firstpost that the attacks were carried out in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan putting to rest the speculations whether the strikes were conducted in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir or in Pakistan

  • Large number of Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists, trainers and senior commanders were eliminated in largest Jaish camp in Balakot, Gokhale said

Highlights

16:47 (ist)

Govt sources say six bombs were dropped by Mirage 2000s

Quoting government sources, ANI reported that a total of six bombs were dropped on Pakistan based terrorist camps by the Indian Air Force Mirage 2000s.

13:44 (ist)

Hindutva ideologues have resulted in rigid attitude towards Pakistan: Media

An editorial in Dawn, put the onus on war-mongering on "Hindutva ideologues" and said, "In India’s case, Hindutva ideologues have infiltrated all levels of the state machinery; this has resulted in an increasingly rigid attitude towards Pakistan."

The article further noted "Indian military's brutal tactics" in Kashmir and wrote, "Moreover, the Indian military’s brutal tactics in occupied Kashmir have fired up Kashmiri resistance, with the region’s disillusioned youth convinced that only armed struggle against India will help them secure their rights. But it is also true that Pakistan can take steps to send positive signals across the border. Among these can be speeding up the legal process to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack to justice."

13:36 (ist)

Khawaja Asif calls on Pakistani politicians to put differences aside after IAF strike

Former Pakistan defence minister Khawaja Asif, in a fiery address on the floor of the National Assembly on Tuesday, called for all parties to "put on a united front" in the wake of IAF's "non-military" pre-emptive strike in Pakistan's Balakot area. 

"Our country, our sovereignty, our integrity are being threatened," Asif reportedly said, asking that a joint sitting of Parliament be convened on Tuesday. "It is the need of the hour that we show solidarity with the Army." The PML-N leader said it is "not the time for political point-scoring", and called for all political parties to "suspend their differences for some time. Asif also said that the message should be sent that all lawmakers are "one in the matter of Kashmir".

12:50 (ist)

Balakot or Bala Kote?

With Pakistan military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor tweeting that the IAF jets had dropped the payload "in haste" near Balakot, confusion ensued about whether the IAF strike took place just across the Line of Control in the town located in Mansehra district of Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, or in a similarly named town Bala Kote near the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch sector.

12:19 (ist)

Dawn editorial slams Indian media for war-mongering

An editorial in Dawn slammed the Indian media and said "particularly jarring are the armchair warriors of the media — especially on the Indian side — baying for the blood of the ‘other’." The editorial, titled War rhetoric & reality said, "There has also been a reprehensible effort to exploit the attack and work up anti-Kashmiri and anti-Muslim sentiments in India, predominantly by the storm troopers of Hindutva. But perhaps what is most worrisome is that ministers and members of the establishment on both sides are talking casually about war."

The article further notes: "In such a tense atmosphere, India should take up Pakistan’s offer to “give peace a chance” as the alternatives to constructive dialogue are confrontation and yet more hostility."

12:16 (ist)

'No casualties, no damages on ground': Balakot police chief tells AP

Dawn reported that 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."

The report comes in the wake of foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale's press briefing confirming a non-military intelligence-led pre-emptive attack in Balakot aimed at Jaish-e-Mohammad training camps. 

11:46 (ist)

The Pakistan connection: How terror groups continue recruiting youth in pakistan

Feeding the fidayeen factory in Kashmir is a much larger army: the infrastructure which organises the hundreds of young south Punjab (in Pakistan) men who head to the Jaish’s military camps each year. In its magazine, al-Qalam, the Jaish calls on Punjabis to donate their religious tithe for jihadists. It publishes accounts of mosque-level meetings across the region, asking for volunteers for jihad.

Jaish publications show that three recruitment programmes were opened this month in Bahawalpur alone: from 16 February to 2 March, 22 February to 8 March, and from 23 February to 9 March. The message relayed to the young recruits remains the same: the survival of Islam rests on armed jihad.

11:08 (ist)

The options before Pakistan

Pakistan has two options now. It’s first, strategically sensible option, is to do nothing: in the midst of IMF negotiations for a bailout, and with a ballooning budget deficit, it just cannot afford a crisis. But there are those in Pakistan’s army who think the country’s long-term security requires a response. In that case, a big response—threatening escalation to a nuclear level—makes the most sense, since it would involve the Great Powers fastest. Even if India makes no public comment, moreover, public pressure will mount as video and accounts emerge from Balakote—it is after all a mid-size town, and the camp is quite close by. 

Two Indian Prime Ministers have faces similar choices. In 2001, after the attack on Parliament House, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was briefed on the benefits and risks of air strikes. He eventually ordered a large-scale mobilisation of troops to signal willingness to go to war—but did not authorise air strikes, fearing they could spark of a tit-for-tat cycle of attacks, without securing any strategic ends. Army chief General S Padmanabhan and Air Force chief Air Chief AY Tipnis both had their reservations, for different reasons—but Vajpayee’s mobilisation eventually secured a deescalation in Kashmir, albeit at huge cost. After 26/11, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh considered air strikes; at one stage, IAF jets were on the runways with engines running. But there were issues with intelligence for targeting data and, unsure of impacts, India held back 

LIVE NEWS and UPDATES

Feb 26, 2019 - 18:43 (IST)

All-party meet ends; Ghulam Nabi Azad says Congress appreciates efforts of forces

After the all-party meet, which was chaired by Sushma Swaraj, Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said, "We have appreciated the efforts by the forces, they always have our support to end terrorism. Another good thing is that it was a clean operation, which specifically targeted terrorists and terror camps,"

Feb 26, 2019 - 18:34 (IST)

RSS issues statement on Tuesday's air strike

In a statement posted on Facebook, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) said, "The entire nation was agitated and angry in the wake of terror attack by “Jaish-e-Mohammed” in Pulwama. Today, the Indian Air Force demolished ‘Jaish-e-Mohammed’s” Pakistan-based ‘base-camps’ by precision air strikes. We congratulate the Government of India and the Indian Air Force for exactly translating the feelings and anger of millions of Indians. These air strikes were carried out without causing any harm and damage to the Pakistani Army and civilians as well, which is in tune with the Bharatiya culture."

Feb 26, 2019 - 18:05 (IST)

Modi to review airstrike in high-level meeting shortly

CNN-News18 reported that Narendra Modi will chair a meeting with intelligence chiefs and Air chief Marshal BS Dhanoa. NSA Ajit Doval will update Modi on the latest developments.

Feb 26, 2019 - 18:03 (IST)

Amit Shah recalls Modi's 2014 promise of 'safe and secure India'

Speaking in Ghazipur, BJP chief Amit Shah said, "Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised a safe and secure India in 2014. First, there was a surgical strike to answer the terrorism in Uri, and now, an aerial strike against terrorism."

"After the Pulwama attack, the countrymen demanded that such action be taken that the enemy would think ten times to repeat such incident. Today, the air force has eliminated the air strikes on the terrorists hidden in the PoK," he said.

Feb 26, 2019 - 17:57 (IST)

Pakistan Army violates ceasefire along the LoC in Nowshera, Akhnoor 

ANI reported that the Pakistan Army violated ceasefire along the Line of Control in Nowshera, and Akhnoor sectors in Jammu and Kashmir. According to CNN-News18, Pakistan has violated truce five times on Tuesday.

Feb 26, 2019 - 17:48 (IST)

Mumbai, Ambala on high alert

NDTV reported that the Ambala air base and Mumbai naval base have been put on high alert. Meanwhile, the forces are maintaining a strict vigil at Wagah Border.

Feb 26, 2019 - 17:34 (IST)

Today an important day, says Modi 

Following the airstrikes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is visiting Delhi's ISKCON temple, said, "God's powers are always with us to save the Earth from the enemies of mankind. This is the message we are trying to send to the evil spirits."

Feb 26, 2019 - 17:28 (IST)

IAF paid 'real tribute' to CRPF soldiers killed in Pulwama attack, says BJP's Ram Madhav

Speaking to ANI, BJP general-secretary Ram Madhav said, "After Pulwama attack, the nation was mourning for 12 days and on the 13th day our valiant air force paid the real tribute to the martyred soldiers by destroying terror training camps deep inside Pakistan territory."

Feb 26, 2019 - 17:20 (IST)

All-party meeting underway at MEA

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is chairing an all-party meeting at the Ministry of External Affairs.

Feb 26, 2019 - 17:08 (IST)

Jaitley briefs Kovind, Venkaiah Naidu over airstrikes
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley gave a detailed briefing of operation to President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu. CNN-News18 reported that it was discussed at the meeting that Tuesday's strike was not a revenge attack over Pulwama but rather a strike to protect India's sovereignity.

Surgical Strike Latest updates: The naval base at Ambala air base and Mumbai naval base have been put on high alert. Meanwhile, Australian foreign affairs minister Marise Payne said, "Pakistan must take urgent and meaningful action against terrorist groups in its territory, including Jaish-e-Mohammed which has claimed responsibility for the 14 February bombing, and Lashkar-e-Taiba."

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is chairing an all-party meeting at the Ministry of External Affairs. Earlier, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley gave a detailed briefing of operation to President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu.

Quoting government sources, ANI reported that a total of six bombs were dropped on Pakistan based terrorist camps by the Indian Air Force Mirage 2000s.

Pakistani villagers in the area where Indian jets struck what officials in New Delhi said was a militant training camp said they heard four loud bangs in the early hours of Tuesday but reported only one person wounded by bomb shards.

In his first response after the Indian air strikes, Imran Khan said that Pakistan will strongly respond to the Indian aggression at a time and place of its choosing. He also asked Pakistani citizens to stay prepared for any eventuality.

Dean of Diplomatic Corps, Hans Castellanos said, "We are satisfied that Indian government has had such a rapid response in informing Heads of Missions. The information is that they did not affect any civilian or any Pakistan military installation, that it was a direct attack due to credible intelligence received."

In his first response after the Indian air strikes, Imran Khan accused India of lying and said that he will take the international media to the site of attack to expose New Delhi. Imran will also give a detailed statement in press conference at 3.30 pm.

"We had been telling the world that India is likely to do something like this (airstrike in Pakistan). Today they have done it," Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said. "I could see that the clouds of danger were hovering over Pakistan. Pakistan is live and strong. We are a responsible nation and will respond in a responsible and tactical manner. Pakistan knows how to safeguard its interests."

Addressing a public rally at Rajasthan's Churu and in a first response after the IAF airstrikes in Pakistan's Balakot area, Prime Minister Narendra Modi started his speech to the slogans of Bharat Mata ki Jai. "India is in safe hands, bhaiyyon aur beheno," said Modi to a massive gathering where the crowd chanted "Narendra Modi" in unison.

In a series of tweets, BJP chief Amit Shah said that the airstrikes conducted by the IAF on Tuesday "further demonstrates that India is safe and secure under the strong and decisive leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi."

Stunned by the Indian Air Force airstrikes on Tuesday, Pakistan said it will give an "appropriate reply" to the Indian action, which it described as 'grave aggression". Soon after Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale issued official statement after the airstrikes, Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Prime Minister Imran Khan has called a meeting to discuss the issue.

Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan has convened an "important meeting" to review the emerging situation in the wake of airstrikes by Indian Air Force in Balakot. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had summoned an emergency meeting at the Foreign Office in Islamabad to discuss the security situation with former secretaries and senior ambassadors earlier on Tuesday, Pakistan media reported.

Defence sources have reportedly said that the IAF strike lasted not more than 21 minutes, right from take off till the return into Indian territory. The strike took place in Balakote, 24 kilometre northwest of Muzaffarabad at around 3:45-3:53 am. The joint training camps of JeM, LeT and Hizbul Mujahideen were hit. Reports further suggested that the terrorist groups had emptied their launchpads but not the training camps.

Here are the three locations in Pakistan bombed by Indian Air Force today:

- Balakot, which is 24 kilometre northwest of Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, was struck between 3.45 am and 3.53 am. However, there is still confusion over whether this place falls in PoK or proper Pakistani territory.

- Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, was hit between 3.48 am and 3.55 am.

- Chakoti, was he last to be hit between 3.58 am and 4.04 am

NSA Ajit Doval along with Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat and IAF Chief BS Dhanoa is reviewing the security situation on the borders after Indian Air Force strikes at Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camp in Balakot across Line of Control, reports have said.

An editorial in Dawn slammed the Indian media and said "particularly jarring are the armchair warriors of the media — especially on the Indian side — baying for the blood of the ‘other’." The editorial, titled War rhetoric & reality said, "There has also been a reprehensible effort to exploit the attack and work up anti-Kashmiri and anti-Muslim sentiments in India, predominantly by the storm troopers of Hindutva. But perhaps what is most worrisome is that ministers and members of the establishment on both sides are talking casually about war."

The article further notes: "In such a tense atmosphere, India should take up Pakistan’s offer to “give peace a chance” as the alternatives to constructive dialogue are confrontation and yet more hostility."

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told the media that the non-military pre-emptive strike in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir's Balakot area was aimed solely at the Jaish-e-Mohammad and its leaders Masood Azhar. Sources at the Ministry of External Affairs told Firstpost that the attacks were carried out in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan putting to rest the speculations whether the strikes were conducted in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir or in Pakistan.

Large number of Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists, trainers and senior commanders were eliminated in largest Jaish camp in Balakot, Gokhale said. The Ministry of External Affairs briefing was held after reports claimed that combat jets of the Indian Air Force bombed terror camps at multiple locations across the Line of Control on the Pakistani side in a pre-dawn strike.

The Indian retaliation comes 12 days after the Pakistan-based terror group, Jaish-e-Mohammed carried out the Pulwama attack in Kashmir, government sources said.

Gokhale further said that the camp was led by Maulana Yusuf Azhar alias Ustad Ghauri, brother in law of JeM Chief Masood Azhar. "In an intelligence-led operation in the early hours today, India struck the biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot. In this operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commander and Jihadis were eliminated. Credible information was received that JeM was attempting other attacks in the country. A pre-emptive strike became important. India struck the biggest camp of JeM in Balakot."

Reports have said that a Pakistani drone has been shot down at around 6.30 am in Gujarat's Kutch region. More details on this are awaited.

The states of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir have been put on high alert as India expects Pakistani forces to retaliate after it carried out strikes. The Indian Air Force has reportedly readied the air defence missile system to nullify any possible air attacks.

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval has briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Afterwards, the prime minister is scheduled to chair a crucial Cabinet Committee for Security meet, which will be attended by Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Balakote training camp is in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, which means India has struck inside Pakistani territory, and not just occupied areas of Jammu and Kashmir. This may account for the absence of official confirmation from the Defence Ministry as India has no wish to push Pakistan into a corner from where it has to hit back on Jaish-e-Mohammad’s behalf. Reuters is reporting that the Defence Ministry is saying it has no knowledge of violations of Pakistani airspace.

CNN-News18 reported quoting government sources that the Balakot Jaish camp has been completely flattened in the limited strikes conducted by Indian Air Force. The sources said that initial assessment of damages suggest at least 200 to 300 casualties.

At least 12 Mirage 2000 jets took part in the operation that dropped 1000 kilogramme bombs on terror camps across Line of Control, completely destroying it, ANI reported. The operation was launched at 3.56 am on Tuesday morning.

Indian Air Force sources told ANI that a group of Mirage 2000 jets struck a major terrorist camp in Balakot sector in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. The sources said that the targetted militant training camp was 'completely destroyed' and the pilots safely came back into the Indian territory.

Pakistan on Tuesday alleged that Indian Air Force aircraft crossed the Line of Control and were forced to turn back after Pakistan Air Force scrambled into action. Pakistan Army spokesperson, Major General Asif Ghafoor tweeted Tuesday morning alleging that more than one Indian Air Force jet 'intruded' into Pakistani territory from Muzaffarabad sector. Ghafoor said, "Facing timely and effective response from Pakistan Air Force, (IAF jets) released payload in haste while escaping which fell near Balakot. No casualties or damage."

Khuram Malik, a Pakistani journalist, reported on Twitter that the incident was from around 1.45 am on Tuesday night. The Pakistan Army, however, has not provided any specific timeline.

The claim remains unsubstantiated from India. CNN-News18 reported that the Indian Air Force is yet to respond to their request to respond on Pakistan's claim.

Meanwhile, various news reports said that the IAF jets conducted a concentrated attack in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir to target the terror camps. CNN-News18 reported, quoting top defence ministry sources, that multiple IAF jets targeted Jaish-e-Mohammad camps in Balakot sector of Pakistan Occupied scheme.

This comes amid heightened tension between two nations in the wake of the Pulwama terrorist attack, which killed at least 42 Central Reserve Police Force  jawans on 14 February. While Pakistan-based group Jaish-e-Mohammad had claimed responsibility within hours of the attack, Islamabad denies any role in the incident. India has, meanwhile, promised to take this seriously and give Pakistan an appropriate response at a befitting time.

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