On 26th of February, when the Indian Air Force conducted an airstrike in Balakot to target Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist training camps. It was on Wednesday, 10th of April, when the Pakistan army allowed more than 12 people including the defence attachés to visit the site where the air strike took place.
The Indian people were allowed to visit the 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. The visit to the school was held on the eve of a general election in India.
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.
When the team visited they saw the large building to be fully intact. There were no traces of damage whatsoever. The Pakistani army denied the allegation of it being being used as a terror camp.
Sources also claim that the team of 12 were also taken to four surrounding areas to tour where bombs had landed.
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.”
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.
India and Pakistan have been engaged in an information war over the Balakot site, where Pakistan says the bombs on 26 February landed in an empty area and hurt no-one where as India insists it killed a large number of Jaish-e-Mohamed group militants and destroyed their camp. That attack was the deadliest against Indian forces in Kashmir in decades and raised fears of a new war between India and Pakistan, which are both nuclear powers.
Twitter is storming with comments around this matter.