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In China, Sushma Swaraj attacks Pakistan for Pulwama attack, defends IAF strikes on Jaish camps, says were not military operation

  • I am visiting China at a time when there is grief and anger in India, Sushma said, referring to the Pulwama terror attack

  • Such dastardly terrorist attacks are a grim reminder for the need of all countries to show zero tolerance to terrorism, she added

  • After the Indian Air Force destroyed a JeM terrorist training camp in Pakistan, China urged India and Pakistan to 'exercise restraint' for peace in South Asia

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday raised the recent Pulwama suicide attack on the CRPF soldiers at her bilateral meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Wuzhen, a day after India destroyed a major terror training camp in Pakistan.

"I am visiting China at a time when there is grief and anger in India. It is the worst terrorist attack directed against our security forces in Jammu and Kashmir," she said in her opening remarks during the meeting held on the sidelines of the 16th foreign ministers' meeting of Russia-India-China.

"The attack was carried out by the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), the Pakistan-based and supported terrorist organisation," Sushma said. "Such dastardly terrorist attacks are a grim reminder for the need of all countries to show zero tolerance to terrorism and take decisive action against it."

Forty Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed in a suicide attack by Pakistan-based JeM in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on 14 February, sparking outrage in the country.

Sushma raising the Pulwama attack with her Chinese counterpart is significant as China has been blocking India's efforts at the United Nations to have Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar designated as a global terrorist.

At the meeting in China, Sushma also referred to Pakistan's refusal to admit that the JeM was behind the Pulwama terror attack.

 In China, Sushma Swaraj attacks Pakistan for Pulwama attack, defends IAF strikes on Jaish camps, says were not military operation

Sushma Swaraj at the 16th Foreign Ministers' Meeting of Russia-India-China in Wuzhen. ANI

"Instead of taking seriously the calls by the international community to act against Jaish-e-Mohammed and other terror groups based in Pakistan, it denied any knowledge of the attack and outrightly dismissed claims by Jaish-e-Mohammed," she said. "In light of Pakistan's continuing refusal to acknowledge and act against terror groups on its territory, and based on credible information that JeM was planning other attacks in parts of India, the Government of India decided to take preemptive action."

Adding that India choice its target in Balakot "to avoid civilian casualties", she explained that the IAF airstrike "was not a military operation as no military installation was targeted".

"The objective was to act against the terrorist infrastructure of JeM to preempt another terror attack in India. India doesn't wish to see further escalation of the situation. It'll continue to act with responsibility and restraint," Sushma asserted.

On bilateral relations, Sushma said: "India-China relations, as you said, is an important relationship for both of our countries. We have made substantial progress in our relations since the informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping in Wuhan in April 2018. It is important to both sides to ensure thorough and effective implementation of the guidance given by our leaders. Both sides have made good efforts in this regard, and we should sustain this effort."

After the Pulwama terror attack, the Indian Air Force destroyed JeM's biggest training camp in Balakot in Pakistan's restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, about 80 kilometres from the Line of Control (LoC), early on Tuesday, killing a "very large number" of terrorists, trainers and senior commanders.

After the IAF's pre-dawn operation, China urged India and Pakistan to "exercise restraint" and asked New Delhi to carry out its fight against terrorism through international cooperation.

"India and Pakistan are both important countries in South Asia. A sound relationship and cooperation between the two serves the interests of both countries and peace and stability in South Asia," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said on Tuesday. "We hope both India and Pakistan can exercise restraint and do more to improve their bilateral relations."

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Feb 27, 2019 08:31:41 IST