New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday chaired a high-level meeting on security amid heightened tension with Pakistan, much as Imran Khan had announced the release of Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman caught in action in that country. Addressing the press after the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meet, Indian Army’s Major General SS Mahal said escalation of tensions had been done by Pakistan but India was prepared for any contingency if the enemy were to provoke it.
Mechanised forces have been put on standby and troops are ready to deal with any security challenge, he said.
Navy: Ready to respond to maritime misadventure by Pakistan
The Indian Navy in the same press meet said it was in a high state of readiness to deal with any Pakistani maritime misadventure amid rising tensions between the two neighbours.
Rear Admiral of the Indian Navy Dalbir Singh Gujral said the force was in a high state of readiness to deal with any Pakistan maritime misadventure.
Pakistani Air Force (PAF) on Wednesday carried out a strike across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir and attempted to target military installations a day after India’s strike on the Jaish-e-Mohammed facility in Balakot.
“The Navy is deployed in a high state of readiness and remains poised on surface, under sea and in air to deter, prevent and defeat any misadventure by Pakistan in maritime domain,” a defence spokesperson said in a statement.
“The Navy assures of a resolute, swift and strong response when needed. We stand as one with the Army and Air Force to ensure the safety and security of the nation and our citizens,” he said.
Air Force not impressed by Imran Khan
The Indian Air Force gave a stoic response to a journalist who sought the force’s reaction to the news that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was returning home. Dampening the romantic spirit of the reporter, the officer dismissed suggestions that it was a goodwill gesture by Pakistan or its Prime Minister Imran Khan, insisting it was in line with the Geneva Convention.
“We are very happy Abhinandan will be freed tomorrow and look forward to his return,” Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor, assistant chief of Air Staff, told a news conference.
Varthaman’s MiG 21 was shot and he bailed out after bringing down one Pakistani F-16 fighter during a dogfight to repel a Pakistani attack on Wednesday morning, he said. He has been in Pakistan since then.
[pullquote]The Indian Air Force gave a stoic response to a journalist who sought the force’s reaction to the news that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was returning home. Dampening the romantic spirit of the reporter, the officer dismissed suggestions that it was a goodwill gesture by Pakistan or its Prime Minister Imran Khan, insisting it was in line with the Geneva Convention.[/pullquote]
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced in Parliament on Thursday that Varthaman would be released on Friday as a “peace gesture”.
Asked if the IAF sees it as a goodwill move, Kapoor said, “We see it as a gesture in consonance with the Geneva Conventions.”
Tension between the two countries escalated after Indian fighters bombed terror group JeM’s biggest training camp near Balakot deep inside Pakistan early Tuesday. It came 12 days after the JeM claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Kashmir, killing 40 soldiers.
Kapoor said it was up to the political leadership to decide when and how to release evidence of the Balakot strike’s success. He was responding to a question that there was some scepticism about whether IAF fighters had hit the intended targets.
Kapoor said there is credible information and evidence that “we hit the intended targets” and it was premature to assess the casualties and damage.
Political heads meet to deal with situation
Earlier, Prime Minister Modi had chaired a high-level meeting on security. Sources said the meeting was attended by chiefs of the three Services, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Several other senior officials attended the meeting held at the prime minister’s residence.