Pakistan pledges to “respond” to Indian air strikes

Pakistan has warned India to wait for its response after New Delhi claimed to have launched deadly air strikes on “militants” within Pakistani territory. 

Pakistan’s Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor held a press conference on Tuesday evening, challenging India’s claims on the Line of Control (LoC) violation earlier in the day.

Indian military planes had violated the LoC early on Tuesday, intruding from the Muzaffarabad sector, following which “Pakistan Air Force immediately scrambled” and Indian aircraft went back, Ghafoor said on Twitter.

“Today, the prime minister has asked everyone to get ready for every eventuality. We are all ready. Now it is time for India to wait for our response,” he asserted.

“The response will come at a point and time of our choosing where our civil military leadership decides, and as a matter of fact, has decided,” he added, reiterating the statement issued after the National Security Committee (NSC) meeting convened by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“We have already exposed India and will do it again so the world knows what exactly India wants. ”

India claimed that the country’s air force had “struck the biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in Balakot”. They claimed that they remained in the Pakistani airspace for 21 minutes and killed 350 “terrorists.” They said that the second strike was in Muzaffarabad and the third in Chakothi.

“Allah Almighty is the greatest and we should not make tall claims, but come and try to spend 21 minutes in Pakistani airspace,” challenged Maj Gen Ghafoor.

“According to war methodology, our entire Air Force could not have stayed airborne. Our safeguards on land were in place. So if they had tried an on-ground incursion, they would have met the response that we had planned.

“Last night, our radars were observing them. They had earlier come closer to our border but did not cross it. Last night, their first visibility was observed near the Sialkot and Lahore border. They were seen approaching the border. Our Combat Air Patrol (CAP) team approached and challenged them. They did not cross.

“As per the SOP (standard operating procedure), when the first team got committed there, the next CAP team automatically was airborne. During this, another one of their formation was picked in Bahawalpur sector. The second standby team went down south and challenged it. We then observed that the more heavier of their teams was approaching Muzaffarabad sector from Kiran Valley. When our third CAP team challenged them, they had crossed the LoC.

“Their approaching of the border, the challenge and their return took four minutes,” said the ISPR DG.

“If they had struck any military position, then an engagement would have happened. But they did not do that because if they had done so, our soldiers were ready,” he added.

Relations between the countries were strained by an attack on Indian troops in Kashmir earlier this month.

India accuses Pakistan of allowing “militant groups” to operate on its territory and says Pakistani security agencies played a role in the suicide attack on 14 February, which was claimed by JeM and killed 40 Indian troops.

Pakistan denies any role and says it does not provide safe haven to militants.

The strikes are the first launched across the line of control – the de facto border that divides India-administered Kashmir from Pakistan-administered Kashmir – since a war between the two countries in 1971.

Both India and Pakistan claim all of Muslim-majority Kashmir, but control only parts of it. The nuclear-armed nations have fought three wars and a limited conflict since independence from Britain in 1947 – and all but one were over Kashmir.

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