#IndiaStrikesBack: In China, Sushma Swaraj speaks on "necessary" airstrikes
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is in China to attend a Russia-India-China (RIC) meeting, on Wednesday justified the Balakot airstrikes by saying the Indian Air Force was forced to take the route as Pakistan failed to act against homegrown terror. Clarifying the government's stance on the matter, Swaraj said IAF's pre-emptive operation wasn't targeted at any military establishment. Here's more.
Understanding why Swaraj went to China
Swaraj left for the event late on Tuesday night. She is due to meet Wang Yi and Sergei Lavrov, her Chinese and Russian counterparts respectively. Divulging details about the meeting, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted counter-terrorism is on Swaraj's agenda. "Apart from attending the trilateral meeting, EAM will hold bilateral discussions with Russian and Chinese Foreign Ministers," the tweet read.
In her speech, Swaraj mentioned Jaish orchestrated Pulwama attack
Swaraj started her speech by mentioning the Pulwama attack of February 14, in which 40 CRPF soldiers were martyred. "I am visiting China at a time when there is grief and anger in India. It is the worst terrorist attack directed against our security forces in Jammu and Kashmir," she said. The deadly attack was executed by Jaish-e-Mohammed, which operates from Pakistan.
Swaraj defends IAF's unprecedented operation
Furthermore, Swaraj defended IAF's operation. She underlined Pakistan continued to deny that terrorist groups operated from its soil. "The Government of India decided to take pre-emptive action and the target was selected in order to avoid civilian casualties," she said while adding that Jaish-e-Mohammed was planning other attacks. She reminded the Pulwama attack was condemned by many members of the international community.
After Pulwama attack, IAF started planning airstrikes
IAF planned the airstrikes for 11 days and executed it with precision. In the pitch darkness of the night, 12 Mirage-2000 jets dropped nearly 1,000 kg of explosives on Jaish's biggest camp in Balakot. A rattled Pakistan claimed Indian jets were forced to return after PAF retaliated strongly. Pakistan criticized the operation and called it "an act of aggression" by India.
To recall, China didn't condemn Pakistan after Pulwama
The tensions between the two bitter neighbors escalated after the Pulwama attack. Countries like the US, Russia, UK, and France condemned Pakistan's role in terrorism but China took a different stand. Unwilling to name Masood Azhar, Jaish's chief, Pakistan's all-weather friend China asked India to furnish proofs to support its claim. Earlier as well, China blocked India's bid to declare Masood UN-designated terrorist.
However after Balakot strikes, China asked Indo-Pak to "practise restraint"
Swaraj's trip to China becomes all the more significant considering Beijing's opinion on Pak-sponsored terrorism. Giving its first reactions on IAF's operation, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang advised India and Pakistan to "practise restraint". "Sound relations and cooperation serve the interest of both countries for peace and stability in South Asia. Fighting terrorism is a global practice and needs necessary cooperation," Kang said.