The Latest: China urges restraint from both Pakistan, India
ISLAMABAD (AP) — The Latest on India-Pakistan tensions after New Delhi launches airstrike in Kashmir (all times local):
China, a close Pakistani ally, is calling for restraint from both Islamabad and New Delhi to prevent a larger crisis.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters that it was “conducive to peace and stability in South Asian for the two sides to maintain a good relationship and good communication.”
Lu says China hopes “both India and Pakistan can exercise restraint and take actions that will help stabilize the situation in the region and help to improve mutual relations.”
Referring to India’s claim that its airstrike targeted terrorists, Lu said combatting terrorism “is a global issue and a global challenge. It requires cooperation between countries.”
India says it struck the biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammad, a group that claimed to have carried out the Feb. 14 suicide bomb attack on Indian troops in Kashmir.
In 2017, China joined several nations to declare the Pakistan-based group and another one, Lashkar-e-Taiba, as terrorist organizations, a move praised by India and the U.S. However, Beijing has blocked India’s attempts to have Jaish-e-Mohammad leader Azhar Masood listed as a terrorist by the United Nations.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi says his country is in “safe hands,” hours after India carried out an airstrike inside Pakistani-controlled territory.
Modi, commenting on the early Tuesday strike, says that “today is a day to pay homage to India’s brave hearts,” — an apparent reference to 40 Indian soldiers killed in Feb. 14 suicide bombing in India-controlled Kashmir.
Modi spoke to a rally of former soldiers in the northern state of Rajasthan.
He says: “I vow that I will not let the country bow down.”
The strike comes as India pressed on with its crackdown against Kashmiri leaders and activists seeking the end of Indian rule over its section of the divided territory. So far, India has arrested 400 in the campaign.
The crackdown has mainly targeted Jama’at-e-Islami, Kashmir’s largest religious-political group that also espouses the right to self-determination for the Himalayan region.
Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi says India has created “hysteria” in the wake of this month’s attack on Indian troops in the disputed Kashmir region.
Addressing an international conference on media and conflict, Alvi on Tuesday warned that rhetoric “can lead to war.” He did not address an overnight incursion by Indian fighter jets. India says the jets struck a terrorist training camp, killing a large number of militants. Pakistan says there were no casualties.
Jaish-e-Mohammad, a militant group based in Pakistan, claimed the Feb, 14 attack. But Pakistan has denied any involvement in the bombing, which it says was planned and executed “indigenously.”
Alvi warned Tuesday that “we know how to defend ourselves.”
India says the airstrike it launched in Pakistan killed a “very large number” of militants, trainers and commanders in the group that carried out a deadly suicide bombing against Indian troops in the disputed territory earlier this month.
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale says India struck “the biggest training camp” of Jaish-e-Mohammad in the Balakot region early Tuesday.
Tensions have soared between India and Pakistan since the Feb. 14 bombing, which killed 40 Indian troops and was the deadliest such attack since the Kashmir insurgency erupted in 1989. Pakistan has insisted it had nothing to do with the attack, but has vowed to respond to any Indian military operation against it.
Pakistan says the airstrike early Tuesday caused no casualties.
A junior minister in India says the country launched an airstrike in Pakistan targeting “terror camps,” an apparent response to a suicide attack earlier this month that killed 40 Indian troops in the disputed territory.
Gajendra Singh Shekhawat tweeted Tuesday that the air force “carried out aerial strike early morning today at terror camps across the LoC and Completely destroyed it.” The Line of Control separates Pakistani and Indian forces in Kashmir.
Pakistan said earlier that Indian aircraft crossed into its territory and dropped bombs “in haste” near Balakot, on the edge of Pakistani-ruled Kashmir. It said there were no casualties.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted the Cabinet Committee on Security Tuesday. No statement was issued after the meeting, but Human Resources Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters: “This was a necessary step by the air force. The whole country is behind the armed forces.”
Tensions have soared between the two nuclear-armed rivals since the Feb. 14 attack on Indian troops, which was claimed by the Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group. It was the deadliest such attack since the Kashmir insurgency began in 1989. Both countries claim Kashmir in its entirety and have gone to war twice over it.
Pakistan’s military spokesman tweeted that Indian aircraft crossed into Pakistan and then “released payload in haste” but says there were casualties.
Maj. Gen Asif Ghafoor said the Indian “aircrafts” crossed early Tuesday into the Pakistan-controlled Muzafarabad sector of Kashmir. He said Pakistan scrambled fighter jets and before turning back, the Indian jets dropped their payloads near Balakot, on the edge of Pakistani-ruled Kashmir.
There has been no comment from India.
The incursion could have been in retaliation for a deadly Feb. 14 suicide bombing in India’s half of Kashmir that killed at least 40 troops. The Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed responsibility. The bomber who made a video before the attack was a resident of Indian Kashmir.
Pakistan and India both lay claim to a united Kashmir.