In the wee hours of the morning today, India upped the ante and audaciously defied all conventional wisdom that calls for ‘strategic restraint’ or maintaining normalcy in the face of mounting aggression by launching airstrikes inside Pakistani territory and bombing JEM terrorist camp in Balakot, which is the largest JEM camp. Over 300 terrorists have been estimated to have been killed in the airstrike.
Eleven Mirage-2000 fighter jets of the Indian Air Force, that took off from Indian Airforce Base in Ambala, launched air strikes at camps of international terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed. The government of India has officially confirmed the military action against the terrorists.
Indian Foreign Secretary, VS Gokhale, termed the airstrikes as ‘non-military preemptive action’.
He further added, “The Government of India is firmly and resolutely committed to taking all necessary measures to fight the menace of terrorism. The selection of the target was also conditioned by our desire to avoid civilian casualties. The facility is located in thick forest on a hilltop far away from any civilian presence.”
Backing India’s stance, Marise Payne, Australian foreign minister, said, “Pakistan must take urgent and meaningful action against terrorist groups in its territory, including Jaish-e-Mohammed – which claimed responsibility for the February 14 bombing – and Lashkar-e-Taiba”
Following the gruesome terrorist attack on an Indian paramilitary convoy in Pulwama, Jammu & Kashmir that lead to the death of 42 soldiers, there was a groundswell of public anger in India. Pakistan-based and ISI sponsored dreaded terrorist organization JEM ( Jaish-e-Muhammad) claimed the responsibility for the attack. As a retaliatory measure, India took a series of unprecedented punitive measures against Pakistan for backing terrorism, including withdrawing the Most Favored Nation status that was granted to Pakistan in 1996.
Reuters has called the airstrike as the first Indian airstrike inside Pakistani territory since 1971.
Interestingly, there are multiple Balakots, including two in India: Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand. There is one Balakot in Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir and the one, where the strikes took place, is in Mansehra District, Khyber Pakhtunwala province, around 200 kms from Islamabad.
There are also reports of other airstrikes on a terrorist camp in Muzzafarabad and Chakoti, which are 40 and 57 km far from Balakot respectively.
Let’s have a look at the location of Balakot and its distance from LOC(Line of Control) on Google Maps.