Pakistani media on Tuesday rejected as “baseless” alleged Indian airstrikes on a militant training camp near Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir.
“The Indian government’s claim is baseless as they did not show any evidence so far to media regarding targeting any camp or building inside Pakistan” Geo News, a local Pakistani broadcaster, said.
India has claimed that its warplanes bombed a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) camp, killing hundreds of suspected militants.
Pakistan has recognized JeM as a terrorist organization since 2002.
Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said at a news briefing in New Delhi that the airstrike on Tuesday hit “the biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) in Balakot in a non-military preemptive action.”
“Indian officials remained silent for eights hours and even their Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale was not able to respond to a single question of journalists about his country’s claim that they have destroyed any camp,” Hamid Mir, a senior journalist with Geo News, questioned Delhi’s suggestion.
All major Pakistani media outlets quoted an army spokesman’s statement who said that Indian aircraft had violated the LoC before being chased away by Pakistan Air Force (PAF) planes which “scrambled immediately”.
“Indian aircraft violate LoC, scramble back after PAF’s timely response,” Dawn, a major daily, said.
The Express Tribune said Indian warplanes were forced to drop their payload near Balakot after being intercepted by Pakistani planes.
“PAF repulses Indian attempt of incursion into Pakistan air space,” Pakistani daily the News International said.
Public broadcaster PTV News quoted Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi as saying that his country reserved the right to respond.
“Pakistan reserves the right to respond to the Indian aggression. Prime Minister Imran Khan has summoned a meeting to decide a possible response,” Qureshi said.
Indian media response
Top Indian news media outlets reported that Indian Air Force (IAF) “destroyed terror camps of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) inside” Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
“India strikes terrorist camp,” said local broadcaster NDTV.
The TV channel claimed that Indian warplanes struck at about 3:30 am local time (2200GMT Monday) on Tuesday.
Quoting sources, Indian daily Hindustan Times reported: “The IAF used Mirage-2000 jets with laser-guided 1,000-pound bombs causing estimated casualties of 200-300. The laser-guided bombs are built with Israeli technology.”
The Indian Express newspaper reported that 12 Indian Mirage 2000 jets took part in the operation.
It said that the alleged cross-border airstrike is the first since the 1971 war between the two neighbors.
“During the 1999 Kargil conflict, the [Atal Bihari] Vajpayee government had decided to restrict the use of IAF to India’s own side of LoC. IAF had used Mirage 2000s to fire laser-guided bombs, fixed hastily when the Kargil conflict was on, to target Pakistani posts on the mountains of Kargil,” the Indian Express news report said.
Chennai-based The Hindu daily reported that all Indian political leaders lauded the alleged airstrikes.
“We salute the @IAF_MCC for their consistent & determined effort to keep Indians safe. Jai Hind!” the newspaper quoted Indian National Congress leader Rahul Gandhi as saying in a Twitter post.
The report also cited Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal hailing the airstrikes: “I salute the bravery of Indian Air Force pilots who have made us proud by striking terror targets in Pakistan.”
Quoting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s arch-rival, Mamata Banerjee, who is chief minister of West Bengal, the Hindu reported: “IAF also means India’s Amazing Fighters. Jai Hind!”