ISLAMABAD, February 26 -- Indian fighter jets on Tuesday crossed into Pakistani territory, conducting what the foreign ministry termed a "non-military pre-emptive action" against armed group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
This after dramatically escalating tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors weeks after a suicide attack in the disputed Kashmir region. Pakistan first reported the Indian airspace incursion, with Pakistani military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor saying Pakistani air force jets were scrambling to respond, forcing the Indian aircraft to "release [their] payload in haste while escaping".
Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, however, asserted that the jets had hit their target, and that "a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated." "The government of India is firmly and resolutely committed to taking all necessary measures to fight the menace of terrorism," he told reporters in New Delhi. "Hence this non-military pre-emptive action was specifically targeted at the Jaish-e-Mohammed camp."
C Uday Bhaskar, the director of the Society for Policy Studies based in New Delhi said: "India has sent a very firm signal." "The fact that air power has been used for the first time against a terrorist target to my mind signaled to Pakistan that India is demonstrating resolve in terms of using military power particularly air power," he said. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with his top government officials in New Delhi where he was briefed about the predawn air attacks. Reports from New Delhi, said that the Indian government has been under a lot of pressure to act in the wake of the Kashmir attack. "This attack was expected and one of the reasons it was delayed was the visit of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the region," Jamil said. "But everyone did expect that this would somehow happen sometime soon especially with [general] elections coming up in April."