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Published On: Tue, Feb 26th, 2019

‘Surgical Strike 2.0’ :China Asks India, Pakistan To “Exercise Restraint”

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xi-jinping-1532570224NEW DELHI :In its first reaction after Indian Air Force jets pounded a terrorist camp across the Line of Control days after the Pulwama terror attack, China on Tuesday urged New Delhi and Islamabad to “exercise restraint”.
“We hope that both India and Pakistan can exercise restraint and adopt actions that will help stabilise the situation in the region and improve mutual relations,” China’s foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said, according to news agency PTI.India carried out “non-military, pre-emptive air strikes” across the Line of Control early this morning to target the terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed, which was planning more attacks in the country after Pulwama, government officials in New Delhi said.
Early on Tuesday morning, 12 Indian Air Force Mirage-2000 jets crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and bombed terror camps of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) in Balakot. The air strike, which has been dubbed ‘surgical strikes 2.0’, follows two weeks after a terror attack on CRPF soldiers in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir.
As news of the attack trickled in early in the morning, both Indian and Pakistani media went into overdrive with varying news reports. Foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale confirmed the air strike and said a large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, and senior commanders were eliminated at the largest terror training camp in Balakot. The camp was led by Maulana Yusuf Azhar alias Ustad Ghauri, brother-in-law of JeM Chief Masood Azhar. The government said the camp was located on a hilltop, deep in a forest, and far away from any civilian presence.
While Indian media praised the precision and success of the attack, many media outlets in Pakistan confirmed the attack but said the Indian jets “fled” after Pakistani forces retaliated. A report in Pakistani daily Dawn ran the headline, “Indian aircraft violate LoC, scramble back after PAF’s timely response: ISPR”. The headline refers to a tweet by Director-General Inter-Services Public Relations Major-General Asif Ghafoor who posted pictures of an alleged payload from IAF jets, with the caption, “Payload of hastily escaping Indian aircraft fell in open.”

Pakistani media is treating the attack as an LoC violation and has accused India of warmongering. Yet another article in Dawn is currently running with the headline, “Pakistan will respond to Indian aggression at time, place of its choosing: NSC on LoC violation”. The report is based on the statement by Pakistan’s National Security Committee which met in a special meeting convened by PM Imran Khan in the wake of the attacks.

India struck the biggest camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed and a “very large number” of terrorists were eliminated, said Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale. Some 300 terrorists were killed in the Indian Air Force strike at around 3.30 am, top government sources told NDTV. Twelve Mirage 2000 fighter jets dropped 1,000 kg bombs on the camp at Balakot. India has started the process of briefing major world powers about Tuesday’s air strikes.

 The Jaish-e-Mohammed was responsible for the February 14 terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama, in which 40 soldiers were killed.Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said: “This was grave aggression by India against Pakistan. This is a violation of LoC and Pakistan has the right to retaliate and self-defence”.
After the Pulwama attack, China had expressed “deep sympathies” to the families of the 40 CRPF men. In its condolence message to Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had said that his country “resolutely opposes and strongly condemns all forms of terrorism”, but the statement did not make any reference to Pakistan.The self-described “all weather” ally of Pakistan also tried to stall a United Nations Security Council statement naming Jaish-e-Mohammed after the Pulwama attack. China has long used its veto power to scuttle a move by India at the UN to put Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Masood Azhar on a global terror list.( With Agency Inputs ).

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