No Pakistani soldier or citizens died in the Balakot air strike on February 26, admitted India’s minister for external affairs on Thursday.
“When we carried out an air strike across the border after the Pulwama terror attack, we had told the international community that we took that step in self-defence only,” Sushma Swaraj was quoted as saying by the Times of India.
“We had told the international community that the armed forces were instructed not to harm any Pakistani citizen or its soldier during the strike,” Swaraj said.
On February 14, 40 Indian soldiers were killed after a local Kashmiri boy rammed an explosive-laden van into the convoy of Indian soldiers. The attack was reportedly claimed by outlawed Jaish-e-Muhammad.
It brought Pakistan and India on the brink of war. Tensions between the two countries escalated further after Indian planes violated Pakistani airspace and released their payload inside Pakistan’s territory on February 26.
In response, Pakistan shot down two Indian planes in Kashmir on the very next day. One plane crashed in the Kohi Rata sector of Azad Kashmir while another in Indian-Administered Kashmir’s Budgam area. A pilot of the Indian Air Force, identified as Abhinandan, was also taken into custody. However, he was handed over to Indian authorities as a gesture of peace.