PAKISTAN has summoned its nuke commanders and vowed retaliation after India conducted anti-terrorists airstrikes in the country.
The airstrike was the most recent worrying development as the two nuclear-powered neighbours face off, in an attack Pakistan labelled illegal.
EPA Kashmiris prepare emergency bunkers in response to the air strikes
The Independent reported that Prime Minister Imran Khan had convened a meeting of the National Command Authority, which overseas the country’s nuclear arsenal, and told the country to “prepare for all eventualities”.
Pakistan said earlier in the day that it has scrambled fighter jets in the response to an attack the government claim violated its airspace.
Indian claimed a “very large number” of militants were killed in the strikes in the town of Balakot – located in a remote valley in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province – but Pakistan are contradicting this, saying there were no casualties.
The air strike was the first fired across the border dividing India-controlled Kashmir from Pakistan-controlled Kashmir since the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971.
A special meeting of Pakistan’s National Security Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, concluded that India committed an act of “uncalled for aggression”.
The committee said Pakistan will respond to the strikes “at the time and place of its choosing”.
Delhi has claimed its neighbour had a “direct hand” in a February 14 suicide attack, involving a car packed with explosives, on an Indian security convoy in Pulwama which left 40 soldiers dead.
Mr Gokhale said members of the Islamabad-linked militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) – which claimed responsibility for the assault – were targeted in the air strikes.
He said: “A large number of JeM terrorists were killed. The strike avoided civilian casualties.
In the face of imminent danger, a pre-emptive strike became absolutely necessaryIndian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale
“Credible intel [intelligence] was received that JeM was planning more suicide attacks in India.
“In the face of imminent danger, a pre-emptive strike became absolutely necessary.”
He added that senior members of the group had been killed in the strikes.
According to another government source, 300 militants were killed in the military operation which targeted one of the group’s training camps.
Mr Gokhale said: “The existence of such training facilities, capable of training hundreds of jihadis could not have functioned without the knowledge of the Pakistani authorities.”
Pakistan downplayed the severity of airstrike, saying its own warplanes chased off the Indian aircraft, which had released their “payload” in a forested area, causing no casualties and no serious material damage.
The air strikes could spark a new conflict between India and Pakistan
India has also deployed 10,000 extra troops to the region while arresting 250 Muslim separatists following the terror attack.
Pakistan denies harbouring JeM, a primarily anti-India group that forged ties with al Qaeda and has been on a UN terror list since 2001.
Indian authorities also raided leaders of the militant group over the weekend and arrested members of the Hurriyat Conference groups who are also opposed to Indian control in Kashmir.
HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
India and Pakistan have fought three wars and a number of smaller conflicts against each other since independence from Britain in 1947.
Only the 1971 war, which was over the liberation of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), was not caused by the so-called Kashmir issue.
Both countries, which began developing nuclear weapons in the 1970s, claim control over Muslim-majority Kashmir but only control parts of it.
AFP Pakistan released pictures of the ‘payload’ released by Indian jets in a forest area of Balakot
AFP Islamabad has released the images playing down the air strikes which they claim targeted a rural area and caused no masterial damage
Reuters Indians in Ahmedabad celebrate the airstrikes against Pakistani militants
EPA An Indian paramilitary soldier stands guard in Srinagar, Indian Kashmir last week amdi rising tensions with Pakistan
Reuters Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soldiers patrol a street in downtown Srinagar last week
AP:Associated Press A protestor in Jammu, India shouts slogans against the February 14 attack on a paramilitary convoy
Police officer in Kashmir, India breaks down giving details of the alleged gang-rape, murder and mutilation of a nine-year-old girl ‘organised by her stepmother’
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