New Delhi: In what is bound to cause major embarrassment to the Pakistan government, a former diplomat from the country has admitted that as many as 300 terrorists had died in the Balakot airstrike conducted by India on February 26, 2019.
According to news agency ANI, Agha Hilaly made the statement during a TV new debate on a Pakistani Urdu channel. His remarks go against Imran Khan government’s official claim that the country suffered no casualties in the airstrike conducted by India.
“India crossed the international border and did an act of war in which at least 300 were reported dead. Our target was different from theirs. We targeted their high command. That was our legitimate target because they are men of the military. We subconsciously accepted that a surgical strike- a limited action- did not result in any casualty. Now we have subconsciously told them that, whatever they will do, we’ll do only that much and won’t escalate,” Agha Hilaly reportedly said.
In a pre-dawn strike in February 2019, IAF’s Mirage 2000 fighter jets had crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and carried out strikes in the terror camps in Balakot, Muzaffarabad and Chakoti in a well-planned operation. Pakistan had refused to acknowledge the presence of terrorists who were killed during the airstrike.
This revelation by Hilaly comes months after Ayaz Sadiq, who belongs to former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s party, claimed that the Imran Khan government had released Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman “out of fear” of an Indian attack.
The 37-year-old IAF pilot was captured by the Pakistani Army on February 27 after his MiG-21 Bison jet was shot down in a dogfight with Pakistani jets during aerial combat.
In the early hours of 26 February, 2019, the IAF jets bombed the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror camps in Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of Pakistan and avenged the Pulwama terrorist attack that claimed the lives of 40 CRPF personnel.
Before his jet was hit, Varthaman downed an F-16 fighter of Pakistan. He was released on the night of 1 March by Pakistan.