Relations between Pakistan and India have been extremely tense since a suicide car bombing, claimed by the Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed
India said its fighter jets destroyed a major terrorist camp in Pakistan, as tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals rose following an attack in Kashmir earlier this month. Pakistan denies the air strikes did any damage.
A dozen Mirage 2000 Indian fighter jets dropped 1,000 kilogram bombs on terror camps across the Line of Control, the de-facto border between the two countries in disputed Kashmir, ANI news agency said Tuesday, quoting unnamed sources in the Indian Air Force.
"Air Force carried out aerial strike early morning today at terror camps across the LoC and completely destroyed it," Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, India’s Minister of State for Agriculture tweeted.
The Cabinet Committee on Security is underway at Prime Minister Narendra Modi house in New Delhi to discuss the air strikes on Pakistan, a government official said.
“Indian aircraft intruded from Muzaffarabad sector," Major General Asif Ghafoor, spokesman of the Pakistan Armed Forces, said in a Twitter post, adding that the Pakistan Air Force responded by scrambling its own jets.
“Facing timely and effective response from Pakistan Air Force released payload in haste while escaping which fell near Balakot. No casualties or damage.”
"The last time the Indian Air Force crossed the line of control intentionally and publicly to conduct air strikes was 1971," Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at MIT said via email, referring to the last Indo-Pakistan war.
But the fact that Pakistan has already said the aircraft did no significant damage could lead to a de-escalation, he said.
Indian defence ministry spokesman Colonel Aman Anand did not respond to a call and text for comment. Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar declined to comment when reached by phone on Tuesday morning.
Relations between the historic arch-rivals have been extremely tense since a suicide car bombing, claimed by the Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed, on Feb. 14 in Kashmir killed 40 members of India’s security forces. Jaish-e-Mohammed is a United Nations designated terrorist group.
The Indian rupee weakened offshore, with one-month non-deliverable forward trading at 71.32 a dollar before local markets open.
Modi, who faces a general election in the coming months, is under enormous pressure after blaming Pakistan for the worst attack on security forces in Kashmir in several decades, and markets reacted after Modi pledged a “befitting reply.”
Islamabad has denied any role in the attack. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed to retaliate against India in a televised speech on Feb. 19 if New Delhi launched any sort of military response. Pakistan’s army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, in the past few days visited troops along the “Line of Control” to see their preparedness, according to the military media wing Inter-Services Public Relations.
The Indian Army said on earlier on Feb. 19 that it had killed a Jaish-e-Mohammed leader in Kashmir who was a Pakistani national with links to that country’s Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, the main spy agency for the government in Islamabad.
Modi had previously said the country’s defense forces have been given the freedom to respond.
Both India and the US see Pakistan as providing safe haven for terrorist groups and point to the fact that the leadership of groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba, which carried out the Mumbai attacks in 2008, still live freely in Pakistan.