Balakot Reactivated by PAK : Bipin Rawat
Chennai , Digital Desk : Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat said the terror camp in Pakistan’s Balakot bombed by Indian Air Force in February has been reactivated very recently. He also added that terrorists camps were active along the Line of Control and about 500 terrorists were waiting to infiltrate into India.
Balakot, and indeed the entire Mansehra district, has long been central to the Pakistani security establishment’s jihadist project. The area has a very large number of mosques and madrassas, and this is where the first camps were set up to train jihadists for the Afghan war and later, for Kashmir.
Balakot is in the Mansehra district of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, 63 km north of Abbottabad, where United States special forces killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011. It is some 200 km from Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, and 40 km north-west of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).
- General Bipin Rawat said in Chennai, speaking to reporters at the Officers Training Academy “Let me tell you, Balakot has been re-activated by Pakistan, very recently. This shows Balakot was affected, it was damaged and destroyed; it highlights some action was taken by the Indian Air Force at Balakot and now they have got the people back there,” . He also added “It highlights that some action had been taken by Indian Air Force and now they have got the people back there,”
- Asked whether there would be a similar strike after “reactivation”, General Rawat said: Why must you expect repeat of a similar thing, earlier we did something, then we did Balakot, why must we repeat? Why not keep the other side guessing as to what we will do? Why tell him what we are going to do, why not keep him guessing, why say repeat, why not something beyond that?”
- The Army Chief’s comments come days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to address the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), where he may take up Pakistan’s support to terrorists attacking India. Yesterday, at the mega “Howdy Modi!” event in Houston, where he shared a stage with US President Donald Trump, the PM took on Pakistan and said it was time to fight against terrorism and those who supported terror. “Whether it is 9/11 in America or 26/11 in Mumbai, where are its conspirators found? Not just you, the whole world knows who these people are,” he said without naming Pakistan.
- Before the PM’s address, President Trump endorsed India’s need for “border security” and said: “Border security is vital to the United States. Border security is vital to India, we understand that.” He also pledged to fight “radical Islamic terrorism”.
Balakot has great symbolic significance for the Jaish. It is the burial place of the Barelvi revivalist leader Syed Ahmed Shaheed and his associate Shah Ismail Shaheed, who were killed here in May 1831 while fighting the subcontinent’s first — albeit unsuccessful — jihad against the army of the Sikh emperor Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
The Jaish training camp in Balakot is named after Syed Ahmed Shaheed.
Indian intelligence believes the activities inside the Jaish’s Syed Ahmed Shaheed Training Camp became more organised, and that bigger numbers of recruits came to be trained at the camp, after two nephews of Masood Azhar were killed by Indian security forces in Kashmir within the span of a year.
The first was Talha Rasheed, the son of Azhar’s brother-in-law Abdul Rasheed, who was killed in an encounter in Pulwama in November 2017, and the other was Usman Haider, Azhar’s other nephew who was killed in Tral in October 2018.
Usman Haider was the son of Ibrahim Azhar, one of the hijackers of IC-814, the hijacking that had led to the release of Masood Azhar himself from prison in India almost two decades ago.
At the time of the IAF strike, the Pakistani establishment, expecting India to retaliate for the Pulwama terrorist attack, had emptied out the Jaish’s headquarters in Bahawalpur and congregated a large number of terrorist cadres at the Balakot training centre.
(With inputs NDTV and Indian Express)