Opposition leaders on Monday hailed the Indian attack on a terrorist camp deep into Pakistan, congratulating the Indian Air Force which carried out the strike at Jaish-e-Mohammed’s (JeM) biggest training camp at Balakot in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who briefed the leaders about the strike at an all-party meeting here, also informed them about her conversations with her counterparts about the strike.
The Indian Air Force action came 12 days after a JeM suicide bomber killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force troopers at Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir on February 14.
“I am happy that all members congratulated Indian Air Force and supported all investigations initiated against terror attacks.
“All the parties in one voice praised the security forces and supported the government’s anti-terror operations,” Sushma Swaraj said after the meeting.
She is learnt to have spoken to her counterparts in the US, China, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to brief them about the strikes.
In her telephonic conversations, including that with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, she conveyed the reasons for the “non-military, pre-emptive” air strike at the JeM training camp.
Foreign Secretary Vijay K. Gokhale and secretaries in the External Affairs Ministry had also briefed foreign envoys, including those of the five permanent members (P-5) of the United Nations Security Council – the US, Britain, France, Russia and China.
Sushma Swaraj is also learnt to have told the all-party meeting that fight was against terrorism and not Pakistan.
The meeting was attended by CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien, Biju Janata Dal’s Bhartruhari Mahtab, CPI leader D. Raja, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, BSP’s Satish Chandra Misra, Akali Dal leader Naresh Gujral, and NCP’s Praful Patel among others.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh was also present at the meeting.
Raja said they told the government that while it had their full support for action against terrorism, jingoism should not be resorted to.
He said Sushma Swaraj briefed them about her conversations with foreign leaders.
The opposition leaders also expressed their concern over problems faced by Kashmiris in some parts of the country after the Pulwama terror attack.
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad lauded the operation for not incurring any collateral damage.
“We have appreciated the efforts by the forces, they always have our support to end terrorism. Another good thing is that it was a clean operation which specifically targeted terrorists and terror camps,” Azad told the media after the meeting.
Yechury termed it an “effective strike by the IAF destroying the biggest JeM camp in Pakistan”.
Other opposition leader also hailed the strikes.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi, addressing a rally in Assam, said: “I congratulate and salute the pilots of the IAF.”
While hailing the action, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati said the Modi government ought to have given a free hand to military much earlier.
“IAF strike destroying terrorist camps across Line of Control (LoC) is welcome action. Salute and respect to their bravery.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave free hand to Army only after Pulwama attack. Had it been earlier, Pathankot, Uri & Pulwama-like tragedy and loss of precious lives of jawans could have been averted,” she said.
Omar Abdullah, however, cited the 1999 Kargil war and then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s subsequent electoral fate.
“For all those looking at today’s air strikes through a political/electoral prism it might be worth remembering that PM Vajpayee went in to the 1999 elections with nuclear tests and victory in Kargil under his belt & still only returned to power with a coalition,” he said in a series of tweets.
He also called the air strike a huge embarrassment for Pakistan.
“We’ve entered a whole new paradigm with the Balakot air strike. The post Uri strike was to avenge our losses, Balakote was a ‘pre-emptive strike to prevent an imminent JeM attack’. Totally new ballgame.
“That’s a strike deep inside Pakistan & is hugely embarrassing for them. Regardless of what the other side may claim was or wasn’t hit the planes crossed over, dropped their payload & flew back completely unscathed,” he said.
Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party supremo Arvind Kejriwal, in a tweet, said: “I salute the bravery of Indian Air Force pilots who have made us proud by striking terror targets in Pakistan.”
Samajwadi Party Chief Akhilesh Yadav and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav also took to Twitter to congratulate the IAF.
“IAF also means India’s Amazing Fighters. Jai Hind,” tweeted West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee.