Air strike on Pakistan sparks celebrations in India, seen boosting Modi support

Air strike on Pakistan sparks celebrations in India, seen boosting Modi support

Kerry Wise
March 3, 2019

Pakistan's military spokesman tweeted that Indian aircraft crossed into Pakistan on Tuesday and carried out an airstrike but said there were no casualties from the attack.

There was no immediate comment from New Delhi.

Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale called the strike a "non-military pre-emptive action, specifically targeted at the Jaish-e-Muhammad camp". They fought a third war in 1979 over East Pakistan, which gained independence with the help of India and became Bangladesh.

The airstrikes came 12 days after a suicide vehicle bomb attack by Jaish-e-Muhammad on Indian paramilitary soldiers in India's half of Kashmir.

Tensions between two nuclear-armed states reached boiling-point overnight as India launched airstrikes into Pakistan territory.

Modi has been under pressure to retaliate since the suicide auto bombing in Kashmir's Pulwama, which India alleges was orchestrated by Pakistan's intelligence agency, and tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors have escalated in recent days. "I can't say anything on this right now", he said.

Imran Khan has convened an "emergency meeting" to discuss and review the security situation with high-level officials in his ministry, Radio Pakistan reported.

"Attacks alike Pulwama and Mumbai are planned by India itself", he stated, adding that it has been usual practice of India to blame Pakistan for such attacks.

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Khan had assured New Delhi that Islamabad will take action against the perpetrators of the Pulwama terror attack if the latter is willing to share "actionable intelligence". He underlined that "no casualties or damage" resulted from the attack.

An Indian paramilitary solider fires tear gas shell towards Kashmiri protesters in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Feb. 26, 2019.

Pakistan downplayed Tuesday's incident, saying there were no casualties and that Indian jets "released a payload" hastily in a forest area after crossing Kashmir's Line of Control (LoC), which acts as a de facto border between the two countries.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif urged India to refrain from plunging the region into war. New Delhi has accused Pakistan of granting safe haven to the Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist groupthat carried out the attack. There was no immediate explanation for the differing accounts, but India and Pakistan routinely contradict one another.

He added that Pakistan scrambled fighter jets and before turning back, the Indian jets they "released payload in haste", near Balakot, on the edge of Pakistani-ruled Kashmir.

"We encourage India and Pakistan to exercise restraint, and avoid escalation at any cost", Pompeo said in a statement after speaking with his counterparts from both countries.

He also said that this action will send a correct message to Pakistan as well as to the terrorists that "no more mischief will be tolerated".