More than a month after the Indian Air Force conducted an airstrike in Balakot to target Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist training camps, the Pakistan army on Wednesday allowed more than two dozen people including defence attachés to visit the site.
They were given access to an Islamic school in Balakot, where militants were reportedly killed in retaliation to an attack in Kashmir’s Pulwama where over 40 CRPF jawans were killed . Sources said the team was taken early morning and given a tour of the area.
According to sources, there were five women defence attachés in the team that visited the site and Pakistani authorities took them to a madrasa which had nearly 130 children.
The large building appeared to be fully intact, sources said, and the Pakistani army denied it had been used as a terror camp.
They were subsequently taken to four surrounding areas where bombs had landed, a source claimed.
In a tweet, Pakistan army spokesperson Asif Ghafoor said, “A group of international media journalists mostly India based and Ambassadors & Defence Attachés of various countries in Pakistan visited impact site of 26 February Indian air violation near Jabba, Balakot. Saw the ground realities anti to Indian claims for themselves.”
A group of international media journalists mostly India based and Ambassadors & Defence Attachés of various countries in Pakistan visited impact site of 26 February Indian air violation near Jabba, Balakot. Saw the ground realities anti to Indian claims for themselves. pic.twitter.com/XsONflGGVP
Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) April 10, 2019
Another official familiar with the development said, “Islamabad is trying to deny any damage to Balakot JeM camp and trying to say that there wasn’t a terrorist camp but madrasa for children.”
Indian external affairs ministry has said it stood by its statement last month that the “counter-terrorism strike of 26 February” had “achieved the intended objective”.
The IAF conducted pre-dawn strikes at Balakot on February 26 in retaliation to the terror attack in Pulwama on February 14 that killed over 40 CRPF personnel. Earlier, a group of eight journalists were taken to the Balakot strike site by the Pakistan authorities.
India has questioned timing of the visit and said that Islamabad is again trying to peddle propaganda and deny to the world the existence of terror camps in Balakot.