New Delhi :
The Army has carried out “target-specific, limited-calibre, counter-terrorist operations” across the Line of Control in the past too but this is for the first time the government has gone public about it, a parliamentary panel was told today, in remarks that appear to contradict the Defence Minister’s claim.
Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar gave this information to the Parliamentary Committee on External Affairs when he was specifically asked by Congress MP Satyavat Chaturvedi’s questions ‘whether surgical strikes have been done in the past’ .
“Professionally done, target-specific, limited-calibre counter-terrorist operations have been carried out across the LoC in the past too, but this is for the first time that the government has made it public,” was replied according to sources present in the meeting.
He had asserted that it was the first time that surgical strikes had taken place in the aftermath of the Uri terror attack and what was undertaken previously were operations locally executed by commanders without involving the government.
Jaishankar also told the Committee that while India has been engaging with Pakistan post the 29 September surgical strikes, no “calendar” has so far been prepared regarding future engagement and its level with Islamabad, members told PTI on condition of anonymity.
He said soon after the operations had ended, the Director General Military Operations of the Pakistan Army was informed about the strikes.
During the two-and-a-half-hour meeting, Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Bipin Rawat also gave details of the strikes targeting terrorist launch pads across the LoC.
Government representatives told the panel that the strikes have fulfilled the purpose as of now and there will always be a nagging doubt in the Pakistani establishment whether India will carry out similar operations in the future.
A Congress member also wanted to know whether similar operations were likely in the future.
The government representatives said the strikes were carried out after a “lot has been suffered”.
When asked about the casualties they could inflict on the terrorists, the officials said the army had crossed the LoC to carry out strikes and not to collect evidence.
In reply to Tharoor’s question on China blocking India’s attempt to get Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar designated as a global terrorist by the United Nations, the Foreign Secretary said India was working on the issue.
A BJP member raised a question on the security of MPs in the wake of the surgical strikes, drawing sharp reaction from an Opposition MP who said the panel was discussing national security and not personal security. Special Secretary (Internal Security), MHA, M K Singla, however, briefed the panel on the security extended to VIPs.
A BJP member of the panel said the questions were not about finding fault. “It was more out of curiosity. There was no politicisation of the issue during the meeting,” he said.
Congress member Karan Singh said “it was a very good meeting”, but parried questions on whether he was satisfied with the response of the government.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, who is a member of the Committee, attended the meet but did not ask questions, a member said.
(With PTI inputs.)