Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Tuesday the Indian Air Force strike that hit Jaish-e-Mohammad camp in Pakistan’s Balakot area was “not a military action” as there was no civilian casualty.
She said Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had not given any casualty figure in his media briefing after the air strike and only gave a statement which is the government’s “position”.
Gokhale has said the non-military and preemptive strike on the Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp killed a “very large number of militants, trainers and senior commanders.”
Sitharaman’s remarks come amid some Opposition leader demanding evidence about the number of militants killed in the air strike.
The IAF, which carried out the strike on February 26, said on Monday that government would provide details on the casualty figures as the Air Force only sees if a target has been hit or not.
On Tuesday, the defence minister said, “There was no need to analyse more on Balakot strike” as she declined to link the air strike with the coming Lok Sabha election.
“After Pulwama attack, we were waiting patiently for days… When we got information the militants attacks were originating from that region (Pakistan), without military action, we carried out the strike pointedly,” she told reporters here on the sidelines of the launch of Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan (PMSYM), a pension scheme.
“Civilians in the vicinity or surrounding areas were not affected in any way, so we have been saying the strike we carried out after Pulwama suicide bombing was not a military action,” she added.
On February 14, a suicide bomber of Jaish rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into a bus in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district, killing 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel.
Sitharaman said Pakistan has failed to take action against terror groups despite India providing details of terrorist training camps.
“Pakistan has been informed about terrorist camps, with proof, by the present (NDA) and previous UPA government. But they neither took action, nor did they remove the terrorist training camps.”
“Pakistan has been denying this globally, saying it was also a victim of terrorism,” she said.
On peace talks proposed by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, Sitharaman said, “We have always been telling that India will be ready to hold talks only if they act against terrorism.”