New Delhi, Feb. 27: In a pre-dawn stealth attack, Indian Air Force jets on Tuesday pounded the biggest training camp of terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) at Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa territory, characterising the operation as a “pre-emptive, non-military action” against terror.
Lasting all of 21 minutes, Operation Balakot began at 3.30 am with a batch of Mirage 2000 planes carrying out the mission, leading to the elimination of trainers, commanders and trainees (said to be around 300) at the camp located on the hilltop in the home province of Pakistan PM Imran Khan.
As the news broke, the sullen mood in the country since the Pulwama attack 13 days ago changed, with political leaders joining people and personalities in effervescent praise of the brave air warriors.
Expectedly, tensions mounted along the Line of Control after Pakistan violated the ceasefire at several places, drawing retaliation from Indian troops.
The camp, 80 km from the Line of Control, was headed by Yousuf Azhar alias Ustad Ghouri, the brother-in-law of Masood Azhar, the JeM chief, who too is said to be among those killed. On his part, PM Narendra Modi emphasised at a party rally at Churu that he would not let the country down, while leaders at an all-party meeting chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj spoke in one voice, praising the IAF.
The deftly executed plan by the IAF, which fielded various platforms to back up the operation, caught Pakistan by surprise and sent a sharp message of India’s capability to strike at a place and time of its choosing, which the government said Indian military was authorised to launch post-Pulwama.
Mindful of international reaction, that many countries fear could lead to escalation of conflict between two nuclear-weapon states, India declared it acted on credible RAW intelligence that JeM was attempting another suicide terror attack. “In the face of imminent danger, a pre-emptive strike became absolutely necessary,” Foreign Secretary of India Vijay Gokhale announced soon after the Cabinet Committee on Security reviewed the situation.
Masood’s brother-in-law headed camp
Yousuf Azhar, who headed the Balakot Jaish camp, is wanted by CBI in IC-814 hijacking case. Brother-in-law of Jaish chief Masood Azhar, Yousuf was key conspirator in Kandahar hijack case. Masood was released in exchange of 154 hostages in 1999 by then BJP-led NDA govt. Yousuf is believed to have been killed in the IAF strike on Tuesday. Agencies
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