Islamabad, February 26: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday directed Pakistan's armed forces and citizens to "remain prepared for all eventualities" after the Indian Air Force (IAF) jets hit the Jaish-e-Mohammed's (JeM) biggest training camp in Balakot in Pakistan. A high-level meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) chaired by Khan also "strongly rejected Indian claim of targeting an alleged terrorist camp near Balakot as well as the claim of heavy casualties", Dawn online reported.
Khan, as per a statement issued after the meeting, "directed that elements of national power, including the armed forces and the people of Pakistan, remain prepared for all eventualities" and summoned a special meeting of the National Command Authority on Wednesday. "Once again Indian government has resorted to a self-serving, reckless and fictitious claim. This action has been done for domestic consumption being in election environment, putting regional peace and stability at grave risk," said the statement. LIVE IAF Strikes On JeM Camps Across LoC Live News Updates: Pakistan Says International Media Will Be Taken to Area of Strikes, Helicopters Readied But Weather is Bad.
The NSC meeting was attended by the civil and military leadership, including Army Chief General Qamar Jawed Bajwa and the Ministers of Defence and Foreign Affairs. "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 (meeting) concluded that India has committed uncalled for aggression to which Pakistan shall respond at the time and place of its choosing," the statement read.
The Prime Minister decided to engage with global leadership to expose the "irresponsible" Indian policy in the region and said the LoC violation will be raised with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), UN and friendly countries, it added. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi will raise the issue at international forums. The meeting decided that a joint session will be called to take Parliament into confidence.
Ahead of the meeting, Qureshi chaired an emergency consultative meeting at the Foreign Office where he said that Pakistan holds the "right to self-defence" and a "befitting response" to India. "We kept on telling the world that this could happen… they (India) carried out aggression against Pakistan today," he told the media. "India violated the LoC. Pakistan holds the right to self-defence and a befitting response."
He said that "India was bent on disturbing peace in the region" and that "the entire region stands with the Pakistan Army". Pakistan Army spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor said earlier that the Indian intrusion in Muzaffarabad sector happened within "AJK" (Azad Jammu Kashmir), 3-4 miles from the LoC that divides Kashmir between the two countries.
"Under forced hasty withdrawal the aircraft released payload which had free fall in an open area. No infrastructure got hit, no casualties," he said following an uproar in Pakistan about Indian jets flying deep into its territory. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif urged India to refrain from plunging the region into war.
He asked the Indian leadership to "rethink its war strategy" and warned that if India initiated a war, then Pakistan would hoist its flag in New Delhi, Geo News reported. Tuesday's attack came after a JeM suicide bomber killed 40 CRPF troopers in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14. It was the worst attack on the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir at one go since militancy erupted in 1989.