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Soon after Ministry of External Affairs secretary Vijay Gokhale’s briefing on Indian Air Force strike on Jaish-e-Mohammad camp at Balakot in Pakistani territory, Pakistan said that it would respond to India’s action, calling it ‘uncalled for aggression’.

Separately, it also denied any terror camp existed at the place of attack or that any damage was done and said it would take international media to the spot to see it for themselves. Pakistan had responded similarly after the September 2016 surgical strike.

In a pre-dawn operation, 12 Indian Air Force Mirage-2000 jets crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and destroyed terror camps of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot. The air strike, which has been dubbed surgical strikes 2.0, comes two weeks after a terror attack on CRPF soldiers in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan urged people of Pakistan to remain prepared for all eventualities. The statement came after an emergency meeting to review the situation, PTI reported.

According to a report by Dawn, Prime Minister Imran Khan convened a special meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) where he said, “The claimed area of strike is open for the world to see the facts on ground. For this domestic and international media is being taken to the impact site. Forum concluded that India has committed uncalled for aggression to which Pakistan shall respond at the time and place of its choosing.”

However, at the same time, Prime Minister’s Office, Pakistan @PakPMO tweeted: “Forum strongly rejected Indian claim of targeting an alleged terrorist camp near Balakot and the claim of heavy casualties. Once again Indian government has resorted to a self serving, reckless and fictitious claim.”

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said India has committed “aggression” by violating the LoC and Islamabad has “right to self-defence”.

Within hours of Gokhale’s briefing, Pakistan’s National Security Committee (NSC) said in a statement: “Forum concluded that India has committed an uncalled for aggression to which Pakistan shall respond at the time and place of its choosing. To take the nation on board, the government has decided to requisition joint session of Parliament.”

The NSC meeting was attended by Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Finance and Chief of the Army Staff General Bajwa, among others.

“Forum strongly rejected Indian claim of targeting an alleged terrorist camp near Balakot and the claim of heavy casualties. Once again Indian government has resorted to a self-serving, reckless and fictitious claim,” the NSC said in its statement.

The government of Pakistan said that they will take domestic and international media to the impact zone that was hit by Indian payloads.

Pakistan alleged that the Indian government initiated action out of domestic compulsions.

“This action has been done for domestic consumption being in an election environment, putting regional peace and stability at grave risk. The claimed area of the strike is open for the world to see the facts on the ground. For this domestic and international media is being taken to the impact site. The forum concluded that India has committed uncalled for aggression to which Pakistan shall respond at the time and place of its choosing,” Dawn quoted a government statement.

“He [Prime Minister Khan] decided to engage with global leadership to expose irresponsible Indian policy in the region,” the statement further reads.

Foreign minister Qureshi said: “First, they committed aggression against Pakistan today. It is a violation of the LoC. I consider it a violation of the LoC, and Pakistan his right to give a suitable response in self-defence.” He was speaking to reporters after an “emergency meeting” with high-level officials at the Foreign Office (FO) for consultations.

Qureshi says, “Pakistan has never backed down on peace talks and Kartarpur was one such initiative. Indian propaganda is Indian propaganda. But to do everything with regards to vote, vote, vote, election, election, election.”

Asking Pakistani’s to remain calm, Qureshi said, “Nation should not be worried over the Indian act as the defenders of the country are fully prepared to respond to any misadventure.” He also added that Pakistan is a “peace-loving” nation and has “registered successes in the war on terrorism,” reported Radio Pakistan.

Senator Sherry Rehman, a leading opposition leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, said that “Indian incursion” across the LOC is strategically “ill-advised and tactically pointless”. “Such moves only ratchet up tensions in a region bristling with anger. “Obvious that (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi’s election wardrums make prospects for talks collateral damage. India’s ruling party sees no other way to win the elections hence, itching for war,” Rehman said in a tweet.

Meanwhile, India’s Opposition leaders congratulated the Indian Air Force on the strike. Congress president Rahul Gandhi, party leader Shashi Tharoor, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal, tweeted congratulating the armed forces for striking terror camps.

Nations urge India and Pakistan to exercise restraint

China has urged India and Pakistan to “exercise restraint” and asked New Delhi to carry out its fight against terrorism through international cooperation, hours after Indian fighter jets struck Jaish-e-Mohammed’s biggest camp in Pakistan in a pre-dawn attack.

When asked for China’s response to India’s airstrikes on terrorist camps in Pakistan, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told the media here that we have taken note of relevant reports.”

“I want to say that India and Pakistan are both important countries in South Asia. A sound relationship and cooperation between the two serves the interests of both the countries and peace and stability in South Asia,” he said.

“We hope that both India and Pakistan can exercise restraint and do more to improve mutual their bilateral relations,” he said.

The European Union (EU), too, called on India and Pakistan to exercise “maximum restraint” after Indian warplanes attacked a militant camp in Pakistan, sending tensions soaring between the nuclear-armed arch-rivals. “We remain in contact with both countries and what we believe is essential is that all exercise maximum restraint and avoid further escalation of tensions,” EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told reporters.

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