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Unclear what “violated” means precisely here—but this also suggests multiple aircraft.
Follow-up tweet clarifies things a bit. We can litigate details later, but big picture right now per ISPR is IAF fighters crossed LoC in the early morning—before sunrise—and released some payload that Pakistan is saying hit nothing important in particular.
Biggest question I have is what “near” Balakot means and what payload specifically. Balakot is not in Azad Kashmir—it’s in KP.
So far, narrative quite reversed from the post-Uri Indian “surgical strikes.” That time, India made an announcement about what it had done and Pakistan said nothing happened. Wonder if India acknowledges this or even says anything officially.
It’s a little past 7:30 a.m. in New Delhi so most of India will be waking up to this news. *If* India hit a target it intended to and Pakistan is downplaying it, that’s a good thing—means no escalation or Pakistani retaliation. Lots of unknowns still.
First reports I’m seeing on the Indian side.
Possible account from #Pakistan—location tagged at Abbottabad—describing an explosion near Balakot. (Unverified.)
Here’s one 2016 account describing a Jaish-e-Mohammed facility at Balakot. (If you’re just following: JeM is the group that claimed a recent VBIED attack in Kashmir that killed 40+ Indian paramilitary, sparking this crisis.)…
We’ll get an official Indian statement on what did/didn’t happen shortly.
A bit of history. I can’t think of any post-’71 precdence, certainly. (Neither side had nukes back then, too.)
@ndtv reporting, citing “very reliable sources,” that IAF struck targets within PoK.
Most detailed report from the Indian side so far, from ANI. #India #Pakistan
No Indian report so far has suggested IAF struck targets in KP, as far as I’ve seen. All reports note the strikes were across the LoC—unclear just how far in.
Indian attack notably timed ahead of a ministerial-level trilateral meeting with China and Russia. That’ll make for an interesting conversation, I’m sure.
Okay. @nitingokhale reporting that IAF •did• strike Jaish-e-Mohammed facilities in KPK—that’s huge. First use of conventional airpower by one nuclear-armed power against another nuclear-armed power’s territory, AFAIK. (KPK is not disputed.)
Also notable that standoff munitions were not used here, per @nitingokhale’s report that IAF went “right upto Balakot”. What on earth were Pakistani air defense crews doing?
Post-#PulwamaAttack, many Indian and international commentators debate the scope of India’s retaliatory move; I think few estimated something like this. Even the idea of standoff munitions at targets the LoC appeared too risky.
This is all very serious, but Pakistan’s initial response suggests there won’t be further (serious) escalation. ISPR’s statement is a face-saving off-ramp, claiming IAF did not hit anything of importance. Watch closely, but don’t freak out.
Update from #Pakistani side showing IAF “payload” in open. Would be good to geolocate! @JosephHDempsey @DaveSchmerler @aldin_ww
If you’re just following along and wondering why both sides’ narratives are incompatible, that’s just how this goes—and how escalation can be avoided. I wouldn’t expect that to change unless India (inadvisably) releases footage/evidence of the strikes.
Seeing Indian reports on casualties now citing around “200-300 terrorists” killed (take that with a grain of salt). Objective of a strike like this is to deter by punishment after deterrence by denial fails; this is much bigger than the 2016 “surgical strikes.”
Background on #Balakot (acknowledged as site of incident by Pakistan and site of strikes by Indian sources who spoke to multiple reporters) from @d_jaishankar.
Conflicting information now on the Indian side on the location of the strike. This report suggests within PoK (disputed) and not KPK (undisputed Pakistan). #Pakistan acknowledged IAF ditched “payloads” at Balakot, in KPK.
This is notable case of a conventional strike by one nuclear power on another. Others include the 1969 Zhenbao Island crisis between the PRC and the USSR and the 1999 India-Pakistan Kargil War. Neither saw conventional airpower used against a nuclear-armed adversary’s territory.
A first reaction from an Indian minister.
More information now from @OfficialDGISPR on today’s IAF strike.
So, this answers a question I had four hours ago about what “near Balakot” really meant. Looks like #Pakistan is now saying the IAF remained within PoK.
So, this is starting to look like ISPR is going to put on a dog and pony show to substantiate its version of events—which could raise pressure in Delhi to substantiate claims. Managing the public diplomacy around this without creating cause for escalation is crucial.
On this point, curious not to have an Indian briefing teed up first thing in the morning—the longer India waits to put out the kind of statement it did after the 2016 “surgical strikes,” the more the rumor mill spins. Nailing down the message early matters.
Now another version of events citing IAF sources. No international border crossing here to strike the well-known Balakot in KPK, where JeM activity has been reported on for a while. But another Balakot (not “Bala Kote”) in PoK.
Now you’re got Swamy getting out ahead of GoI statements with brilliant public diplomacy nuggets like this here.
We should get an official Indian statement—presented by the foreign secretary—within the half hour. This would be the first on-record official Indian statement since the strikes about 8 hours ago.
Update. We’re back to KPK, which is where most reports seem to be converging. Anyway, official statement in ~15 minutes from India.
Indian briefing about to begin. #Balakot #India #Pakistan
Vijay Gokhale, Indian foreign secretary, to read out a statement—no questions from media.
Begins with allusion to #PulwamaAttack on February 14. JeM “has been active in Pakistan for the last two decades.” #Balakot
Information on training camps in Pakistan and in PoK “has been provided to Pakistan from time to time. Pakistan denies their existence.” #Balakot
Gokhale: Pakistan refuses to take “concrete action” against “infrastructure of terrorism.” Gokhale notes India had credible intelligence on a JeM fidayeen attack in the planning; a “preemptive strike became absolutely necessary.”
Gokhale: India struck the “largest” Jaish-e-Mohammed Maulana Yusuf Azhar-run (he’s Masood Azhar’s brother-in-law) camp in #Balakot. “Selection of the targets was conditioned by the desire to avoid civilian casualties.”
Gokhale says India is still awaiting further details on the outcomes of the strike. Little BDA offered in the briefing.
That’s a wrap on the official Indian statement.
Note: post-Uri, the DGMO was present at the media briefing on the “surgical strikes.” This time, we have the top diplomat discussing the context and cause for the strikes.
Now NDTV is reporting that the fighters involved in the strike used standoff munitions after slightly crossing the LoC. (No confirmation officially on the munitions or fighters used, naturally.)
Curious choice by the Indian FS to call this a “non-military preemptive action.” Is the implication that the decision to initiate the strike was made by civilians—contra Modi’s post-Pulwama statement on the military having a free hand? Not sure what that means here.
I suppose that just means the targets were non-military—confusing phrasing, still. Just say that directly.
NEW: Full Indian Ministry of External Affairs statement on the February 26 IAF strikes on a JeM camp at #Balakot.…
And with that, I’m signing off for the day. I don’t expect much more clarity on many of the unresolved components of these strikes in the near-term—or ever.
(Keep an eye on Imran Khan’s announced upcoming statement, though.)
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