“Non-Military preemptive action”, is the term that India used for its recent briefing to the Media on Tuesday morning by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale on an attack that Indian Forces had carried out in Pakistan’s Balakot. An alleged camp of Pakistan-based organization Jaish-e-Mohammed was attacked. The action came 12 days after a terror attack in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir killed 40 jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force. Jaish-e-Mohammed had claimed responsibility for the attack.
The terror camp that was destroyed, was run by Masood Azhar’s brother-in-law, Maulana Yousuf Azhar. It was targeted as it was far away from civilian settlements and the strike would not lead to any civilian casualties. Gokhle further added,
“The existence of such massive training facilities capable of training hundreds of jihadis could not have functioned without knowledge of Pakistan authorities”
What is ‘non-military preemptive action’?
Calling it a ‘non-military preemptive action’ India has carefully omitted the use of heavy terms such as ‘Military Action’ putting down the rhetoric of war action making it clear that India has no intention to escalate military tensions, but will take all necessary steps to defend its territory from Terrorism. A non-military preemptive strike occurs when no military installations are targeted and there are no civilian casualties.
You have to marvel at Indian strategic establishment’s ingenuity at coining gentle euphemisms with deadly meaning: “Police Action” to put down the razakars in Hyderabad, 1948, “Peaceful Nuclear Explosion” for Pokharan-1, 1974, and now this “Non-Military Action….”
— Shekhar Gupta (@ShekharGupta) February 26, 2019
In other words, India wants to make it clear that its decision to send jets across the Line of Control was aimed entirely at the Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Where did the Attack take place?
As Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale calls it, “an intelligence-led operation” against a key Jaish facility. He did not refer to the location as being in “Pakistan” or PoK. The target was initially believed to be in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) but it was later found out that the targeted area was Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province located at the western side of PoK, and an attack there would mean IAF planes managed to fly a considerable distance inside mainland Pakistan there.
The air force ‘non military’ action at Balakot took place deep inside Pakistan, and not PoK. The line of control is 80 km as the crow flies.
400 km from the Adampur airbase. pic.twitter.com/vkWhsyGmpw
— Manu Pubby (@manupubby) February 26, 2019
Gokhle in his briefing pointed out that a facility at Balakot was attacked which was headed by Maulana Yousuf Azhar (alias Ustad Ghouri), the brother-in-law of Masood Azhar, Chief of JeM.
Mosharraf Zaidi, a renowned Pakistani Analyst tweeted that India has attacked Pakistan.
Just to be clear: #Balakot is not in Azad Kashmir.
If Indian Air Force planes dropped payload in Balakot, they crossed across the LOC, and then across the entirety of Azad Kashmir, and then into Khyber Pakhtukhwa.
India didn’t “cross the LOC”.
It has attacked Pakistan.
— Mosharraf Zaidi (@mosharrafzaidi) February 26, 2019
How much of the damage has been caused?
” In this operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated.”
said Vijay Gokhle. However, the Pakistani Officials have stated that no casualties have taken place.
A BBC report has shown how eyewitness in the area called it a ‘Scary Night’. “It was very scary. We heard loud noises and five-ten minutes later there was a blast. We did not sleep the whole night. After 5-10 minutes, we got to know there’s been a blast” said Mohammed Adil to BBC.
What has been Pakistan’s response so far?
Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor who is the spokesperson for Pakistan Armed Forces tweeted that, ” Indian aircrafts intruded from Muzaffarabad sector. Facing timely and effective response from Pakistan Air Force released payload in haste while escaping which fell near Balakot. No casualties or damage.”
Payload of hastily escaping Indian aircrafts fell in open. pic.twitter.com/8drYtNGMsm
— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) February 26, 2019
Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that “The action has been done for domestic consumption given the election environment, putting regional peace and stability at grave risk. India has committed uncalled for aggression to which Pakistan shall respond at the time and place of its choosing.”
The foreign minister informed that Prime Minister Imran Khan has summoned a special meeting of the National Command Authority (NCA), which oversees the operational command and control of the country’s nuclear arsenals.
— PTV News (@PTVNewsOfficial) February 26, 2019
Is it legal to attack Pakistan?
The legality is still ambiguous as Article 2(4) of the Charter of the United Nations puts it,
All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
The UN law is often vague and uncertain, but there is one rule of international law that according to which One cannot use force against another country in its own territory. However, International law gives countries the right of self-defense but there is less clarity about,’ pre-emptive self-defense’. Some of the nations with very strong Armed Forces like the USA, Israel, and Russia have invoked this right. This is the first time India has formally spoken of it. India’s statement and the reference to the action as “non-military” made it pretty straight-forward that India has no intention of escalating matters to war.
What does the Prime Minister have to say?
Speaking at a rally in Churu in Rajasthan, hours after the air force’s strikes across the Line of Control (LoC), Prime Minister Narendra Modi said,
“Today, I assure the countrymen, the country is in safe hands.”
— BJP (@BJP4India) February 26, 2019
He also said that the government has lived up to the old motto of “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan”. He asserted, while on one hand, the government has implemented One Rank One Pension (OROP), which benefited lakhs of army men, on the other hand, the PM Kisan Nidhi will put assured income in the hands of farmers. As major political parties are preparing for the upcoming elections, many political experts believe that this move is going to help BJP.
The Pakistani drone in the Kutch area was shot down by a ‘Derby’ missile from Israeli air defence system SPYDER. First time system used to target enemy aircraft. https://t.co/8E56mkPJjQ
— ANI (@ANI) February 26, 2019
A Pakistani unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was shot down near the International Border in Kutch district of Gujarat. Debris of the UAV was seen near Nundhatad village in Abdasa taluka of Kutch, reported ANI.
There are reports of panic and anxiety among Kashmiris in the valley. As news of the Indian Air Force strike on the Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Pakistan’s Balakot poured in, hordes of residents across Srinagar queued up outside petrol pumps since early Tuesday morning as rumors spread that pumps were running out of fuel, reported The Print.
The current political climate when Article 35(A) is being discussed, Pulwama attack led to attacks on Kashmiris all over the country and the raid and arrests of the popular Hurriyat Leaders along with the upcoming General Elections are definitely indications of a tough time ahead for people in the valley.