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IAF airstrikes: How India explained its paradigm shift in Pakistan policy to the world

Author: Geeta Mohan
Publication: India Today.in
Date: February 26, 2019
URL:      https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/iaf-airstrikes-how-india-explained-its-paradigm-shift-in-pakistan-policy-to-the-world-1465860-2019-02-26?

India also made it clear that the attack was a preemptive, non-military strike targeting militants and not civilians or the State of Pakistan.

The message was loud and clear when India struck a terrorist camp deep inside Pakistani territory in the wee hours of Tuesday -India will not allow a repeat of Pulwama.

On Tuesday, India's Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, along with officials of Ministry of External Affairs, met with and engaged envoys and heads of missions of all major countries and regional blocs to brief them of the action that was carried out by India.

Parallel briefings were held for various envoys by the foreign secretary and divisional secretaries where the thrust was on a few specific points. Diplomatic sources quoted Gokhale as saying, "India did not have an option".

Foreign Secretary Gokhale held a media briefing on India's military action, where he said, "Credible intelligence was received that Jaish-e-Mohammed was attempting another suicide terror attack in various parts of the country and the fidayeen jihadis were being trained for this purpose. In the face of imminent danger, a preemptive strike became absolutely necessary."

This is "unprecedented" said an official, calling it a "paradigm shift" in India's policy on Pakistan.

Comparing it to the US operation to kill Osama bin Laden, an official explained, "The paradigm shift is in the way India deals with terrorism. Not in Kargil or even during the 1971 war did India cross into Pakistani territory. This is comparable only to US's operation to take out Osama bin Laden."

India also made it clear that the attack was a preemptive, non-military strike targeting militants and not civilians or the State of Pakistan.

"This is not against the people of Pakistan but against terrorism," a source quoted Gokhale briefing the envoys. India also made it very clear at the briefing with diplomats that they are not looking at war, they want cordial ties with Pakistan but terrorism needs to be addressed and ended.

The diplomats, who we spoke with outside South Block where the meeting took place, didn't divulge details of the meeting but were pleased with the "responsible" manner with which India handled the situation.

Ambassador Castellano, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and Dominican Republic's envoy to India, in a statement said that the message that they received to convey to their respective headquarters was that "it was a direct attack to limited and specific objectives with no civilian or military casualties, and it was expressed that there is no intention to escalate and will act in restraint and responsibility, based on credible intelligence that further attacks were planned in India."

The action carried out by India is being watched world over. Some are even concerned about relations between India and Pakistan but almost everyone is urging Pakistan to "dismantle" terror infrastructure on its soil.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, in a statement said, "India's Foreign Secretary has stated that India has now conducted operations targeting terrorist groups based in Pakistan. Pakistan must take urgent and meaningful action against terrorist groups in its territory, including Jaish-e-Mohammed, which has claimed responsibility for the 14 February bombing, and Lashkar-e-Taiba."

France's foreign ministry endorsed India's action and said, "France recognises India's legitimacy to ensure its security against cross-border terrorism and asks Pakistan to put an end to the operations of terrorist groups established on its territory."

The one country that unequivocally sides with Pakistan is China.

Chinese envoy Luo Zhaohui refused to respond to India Today TV's questions after he stepped out of the Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday.

But, Beijing did respond with a mild statement. Spokesperson Lu Kang said, "As for the Indian side's actions against terrorist forces that you mentioned, I want to say that combating terrorism is a global challenge. This requires cooperation between countries, and countries need to create favorable conditions and atmosphere for the necessary international cooperation."

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also dialled few of her counterparts in major countries, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to brief them about the airstrikes on Pakistan's Balakot.

Sushma Swaraj is in China for the Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral talks where sources say Pakistan will dominate parts of her talks with her Chinese and Russian counterparts.

Immediately after her China visit, she will be engaging with the Islamic nations in UAE where she would be the "Guest of Honour" at the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) conference.

While Pakistan already called for an emergency meeting on Kashmir, the External Affairs Minister would be holding a series of bilateral meetings to explain India's shift in policy.
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