Around two years after the air strikes by the Indian Air Force on Jaish-e-Mohammad training camps in Balakot, Pakistan has finally admitted that India conducted an aerial strike at a terror training centre in Balakot, leaving 300 terrorists dead.
Forty Indian soldiers were killed in the terror attack claimed by Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed on 14 February 2019. To avenge the Pulwama terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir, Indian Air Force carried out air strikes in Pakistan’s Balakot. But at that time Pakistan denied there had been any casualties.
However, former Pakistani diplomat Agha Hilaly has now confessed on a news television show that 300 terrorists had died in the airstrike carried out by India on Pakistan soil on February 26, 2019, following Pulwama terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir. Notably, this confession goes against the zero casualties claim made by Islamabad at that time.
“India crossed the international border and did an act of war in which at least 300 were reported dead. Our target was different from theirs. We targeted their high command. That was our legitimate target because they are men of the military. We subconsciously accepted that a surgical strike — a limited action — did not result in any casualty. Now we have subconsciously told them that, whatever they will do, we’ll do only that much and won’t escalate,” said Agha Hilaly.
Hilaly was speaking during a debate on a Pakistani Urdu channel. Soon after Indian Air Force had carried out a strike at a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror training camp at Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, as a face-saving measure, had refused to acknowledge the presence of terrorists who were killed during the airstrike.
The strike was in response to the terror attack in Pulwama in which 40 CRPF personnel lost their lives. Pakistan-based Jaish-e- Mohammad (JeM) claimed the responsibility for the February 14 attack, which has been largely condemned by the international community.
This revelation by the former Pakistan diplomat comes months after the remarks of Pakistan Muslim League-N leader Ayaz Sadiq, who in October 2020, said in the country’s National Assembly that Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had in an emergency meeting pointed out that “if Islamabad did not release Abhinandan Varthaman, India would attack Pakistan that night by 9 pm.
He said, “I remember Shah Mahmood Qureshi was in the meeting in which Imran Khan had refused to attend and Chief of Army Staff General Bajwa came into the room, his legs were shaking and he was perspiring. Foreign Minister said for God’s sake let Abhinandan go, India’s about to attack Pakistan at 9 PM”.
On 28th February, Imran Khan had announced that Abhinandan would be released soon as a “gesture of peace”, and the Wing Commander had returned to India on 1 March 2019