Pakistan’s Nuclear Arsenal Body Set to Meet in the Wake of Indian Air Strike

Following the violation of its airspace by the Indian Air Force (IAF), the government of Pakistan has summoned a special meeting of the apex body that oversees policy formulation, exercises, deployment, research and development, and operational command and control of the country’s nuclear arsenal.

New Delhi (Sputnik) – A meeting of the National Command Authority (NCA) chaired by the prime minister is scheduled to take place on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) following which his office released a statement threatening India with consequences for its actions.

“Forum concluded that India has committed uncalled for aggression to which Pakistan shall respond at the time and place of its choosing, ” the Pakistani PM said in a tweet.

The news comes as the NSC rejected claims made by the Indian government that the Indian Air Force destroyed terrorist camps near Balakot and that there have been heavy casualties on the terrorists’ side.

“Once again Indian government has restored to a self-serving, reckless and fictitious claim… The claimed area of strike is open for the world to see the facts on ground,” a statement issued by the Pakistani PM office read.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has also directed the armed forces and the people of Pakistan to remain prepared for all eventualities. He decided to “engage with global leadership to expose irresponsible Indian policy in the region.”

The NSC meeting was attended by Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan and other military and civilian officials, including cabinet members.

Earlier in the day, India’s Ministry of External Affairs claimed that the Indian Air Force conducted a night operation to dismantle the biggest training camp operated by Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot, Pakistan. The group had claimed responsibility for the suicide car bomb attack that killed at least 45 Indian paramilitary police in Pulwama district of Kashmir on 14 February.

After the attack, India blamed Pakistan for harbouring and protecting terrorists, accusing the country of having a “direct hand” in the incident. As a punitive measure, India has withdrawn Pakistan’s most-favoured nation (MFN) status and raised customs duties on goods imported from Pakistan to 200 per cent.

Pakistan has, in turn, rejected the allegations of its involvement in the attack and said that this was New Delhi’s strategy to divert international attention from human rights violations taking place in the Kashmir region. The two countries have gone through three wars over the contentious Kashmir region, but the conflict has not been resolved. The unstable situation in the region has led to the emergence of extremist groups.

In 2011, Pakistan confirmed that it had acquired tactical nuclear weapon capability with smaller nuclear warheads that are attached to short-range missiles (50-100km) as a deterrent against relatively small-scale conventional Indian attacks.

Pakistan has 140 to 150 nuclear warheads, compared with India’s 130-140 warheads, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).