Pakistan’s National Security Committee (NSC) said on Tuesday that the country will respond “at a time and place of its choosing” to the air strike on Pakistan by Indian Air Force (IAF) which took out a major camp of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in Balakot.
Following a meeting chaired by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, the NSC issued a statement saying that “India has committed uncalled for aggression”.
Dawn reported that the committee “strongly rejected Indian claim of targeting an alleged terrorist camp near Balakot as well as the claim of heavy casualties”.
“Once again Indian government has resorted to a self-serving, reckless and fictitious claim,” the statement said.
“This action has been done for domestic consumption being in election environment, putting regional peace and stability at grave risk,” it alleged.
The Pakistan government said that it will take domestic and international media to the site of the air strike for them to “see the facts on the ground”.
“Forum concluded that India has committed uncalled for aggression to which Pakistan shall respond at the time and place of its choosing,” it said.
Khan also directed Pakistan’s armed forces and citizens to “remain prepared for all eventualities”.
He also summoned a special meeting of the National Command Authority on Wednesday.
The NSC meeting was attended by Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan and other military and civilian officials, including cabinet members.
Earlier in the morning, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had called an emergency meeting at the Foreign Office in Islamabad to discuss the security situation with former secretaries and senior ambassadors, Radio Pakistan said.
During the meeting, Qureshi said Pakistan was moving forward while demonstrating the behaviour of a responsible state but India was “bent on disturbing peace in the region”.
Khan is under tremendous pressure for retaliation after India bombed Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) camps and launchpads in an air raid across the LoC.
In an address following the 14 February Pulwama terror attack carried out by Pak-based JeM, Khan had warned of retaliation against any military action by India to avenge the deaths of 44 CRPF personnel.
In a major pre-emptive strike on Tuesday, the IAF dropped multiple 1000 kg laser-guided bombs on JEM’s biggest camp in Balakot. This was the first time the IAF fighter jets were sent across the LoC since the 1971 Indo-Pak War.
Reports say that 12 IAF Mirage 2000 fighter jets took off from Gwalior for the mission which started 3.30 am. The mission was over by 4.06 am.
At 5.12 am, Pakistani Army spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor put out a tweet confirmed that IAF fighter jets did cross the LoC.