The bombing of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist pad in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan, has broken India’s reticence to use Air Force in an unconventional war which it has been subjected to by Pakistan.
India did not use Air Force against China in 1962 out of fear of escalating the war. Even during the Kargil war in 1999, Indian fighter jets not once crossed the LoC.
Last time Indian fighters crossed into Pakistan was in 1971 when India won hands down and Bangladesh was born.
By using nuclear capable and upgraded Mirage 2000, India has called the nuclear bluff of Pakistan. These planes have the proven capability of flying below the radars and can target beyond visual ranges. The fighters can automatically track and target moving targets as well. In 2008, after the Mumbai attack, Mirage 2000 squadron was kept on standby to attack posts inside PoK, but the final call was not taken.
Mumbai did not become the inflexion point despite higher casualties but Pulwama attack did.
The nuclear bluff had deterred Indian military establishment for the past three decades from using air assets. The defence world suffered from caginess when it came to using the Air Force as an option to hit Pakistan. The very idea of the use of the Air Force created the fear of escalation which eventually would go beyond India’s control. Balakot operation has ended the debate.
The air strike has also sent the message to Pakistan that lost cost war, being waged by them in Kashmir, will turn into a high-cost affair if terror activities continue.
Though this strike is no guarantee against a terror attack, but it definitely showcases India’s resolve to use any means including Air Force against Pakistan.
The bottom line is that India has put conventional might back into the game which Pakistan has been dismissing for a long time on a presumption that nuclear nations will not engage in conventional hostility.
The reaction of the Indian government has been restrained so that it doesn't provide anymore provocation to Islamabad.
India categorically stated on Tuesday that it was a preemptive strike to defend itself from the Jihadi elements from across the border. Under the Charter of the United Nations, Article 51 clearly states that countries have the right to self-defence. It is for this reason, India asserted that it was a non-military strike and civilians were not harmed. This time India took a giant leap but silently.
On top of it, lies the importance of Balakot located in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, which is Pakistan and not Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). India by hitting the JeM terrorist camp not only demonstrated its technical capability to hit deep inside Pakistan but also created a new military paradigm whereby terrorist targets deep inside Pakistan from now on would be considered legitimate targets by the Indian military.
Balakot also has a history. In 1831, Maharaja Ranjit Singh eliminated Islamic forces of Syed Ahmed. Maulana Masood Azhar set up his camp in Balakot after his release in 2001. It was here that the conspiracy to bomb Jammu and Kashmir Assembly was hatched. Unlike the last time when India conducted surgical strikes inside POK, this time India has signalled broadening of operations all across Pakistan.
Lastly, by hitting out again, India has shown that it will take unilateral action against Pakistan even if the international community has different views on it. This message has gone all across the world. It was long needed but pending as previous political establishment was strategically lazy in dealing with Pak terror.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL.)