“In the light of the continued refusal of Pakistan to acknowledge and act against terror groups on its territory and based on credible information that JeM is planning other attacks in various parts of India, the government of India has decided to take pre-emptive action,” Sushma Swaraj said.
“The target was selected in order to avoid civilian casualties. Excellences, this was not a military operation. No military installations were targeted,” she added.
Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter planes destroyed a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist camp in a pre-dawn strike on Tuesday in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s province after penetrating deep across the LoC to enter Pakistani airspace for the first time in 48 years.
India described the air strike, in which government officials said over 300 terrorists, trainers and commanders may have been killed, as a “non-military pre-emptive action”.
The strike by Mirage 2000 jets at around 3:30am was ordered on the basis of credible intelligence that the Pakistan-based JeM, which claimed responsibility for the February 14 suicide car bombing, planned to carry out suicide attacks in various parts of India. India said the attack on the group’s biggest terrorist camp, located in the town of Balakot, was undertaken in self-defence.
Swaraj was making her opening remarks during the 16th Russia, India and China (RIC) foreign ministers’ forum being held in Wuzhen, a picturesque water town in eastern China’s Zhejiang province.
“India does not wish to see a further escalation of the situation and India will continue to act with responsibility and restraint,” she said.
Swaraj earlier told her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi that the worst attack on its soldiers in Kashmir’s Pulwama district earlier this month was carried out by JeM under the cover and impunity given it to by Pakistan.
“The attack was carried by JeM, the Pakistan-based and supported terrorist organisation,” Swaraj told Wang on Wednesday during her bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the RIC meet.
“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.
Stating that the JeM is banned by the United Nations and other countries, Swaraj told Wang that “… This terrorist attack is a direct result of the impunity and cover provided to the JeM and its leaders by the Pakistani side”.
“After the Pulwama attack, the entire UN has spoken with a full voice to condemn it,” she said.
The Indian foreign minister arrived in Wuzhen hours ahead of her meeting with Wang. She will be meeting Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov besides taking part in the trilateral forum.
Swaraj told Wang that this was their first meeting of the year and “therefore an opportune time for us to take stock of our bilateral relations and look ahead for cooperation”.
“India-China relation is an important relationship for both of our countries. We have made substantial progress in relations,” Swaraj said referring to the informal meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and president Xi Jinping in Wuhan in April last year.
“It is important for both sides to make sure the through and effective implementation of the guidance given by the two leaders. Both the sides made efforts in this regard and we should sustain this,” she said.
“Particularly the decision taken by our leaders to maintain strategic communication between them provided is an important foundation for the development of our bilateral relations. This channel of strategic communicator between the two of us and between senior officials should always remain open,” Swaraj said.
Earlier, in a statement to the Hindustan Times about the importance of the RIC, the Chinese foreign ministry said: “China, Russia and India, as world powers and important emerging market countries, share common interests and shoulder important responsibilities in promoting world peace, stability and development”.
“It has become an important platform for the three countries to strengthen strategic communication, coordinate their positions on major issues and seek consensus and cooperation,” the ministry said. “Last November, the leaders of the three countries held informal meetings in Argentina, which pointed out the direction and injected strong momentum into the tripartite cooperation,” it said.
The foreign ministry said that during this meeting, the foreign ministers of the three countries will take the implementation of the important consensus of the leaders of the three countries as the main line, and will have in-depth communication on major regional and international issues of common concern.