Indian Air Force strikes back at terrorby Opinion Express February 27, 2019 0 comments
Pre-emptive strikes on Jaish camp in Pakistan shows that India’s counter-terrorism stance has shifted quite a bit.
Decades went by and nothing changed. For much too long, ever since the Kandahar hijacking, terrorism has cost us too much. Too much blood, too much muscle and too many trade-offs, one after another. Since 2004, we have been providing reams of dossiers to Pakistan on terrorist havens operating in its territory. Although it dismissed them as non-state actors, we have desisted from smashing terror bases on foreign soil; though there have been precedents by the US no less of doing so for protecting American civilians, wondering if we would be on the right side of law and fearing a hitback. Yesterday’s pre-emptive strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed camp deep inside Pakistan, killing a “very large number” of terrorists, trainers and senior commanders of the outfit, was more than just decisive and proactive. It meant that India had freed itself of a psychological baggage. It meant that India had broken the curse of coercion and would ensure that terror would be met with equal counter-terror. It also showed that it would now stare down at Pakistan by denting its missile shield and the frontline of the proxy war — namely UN-proscribed terrorists like Jaish chief Masood Azhar. That it would henceforth keep an eagle eye on every terrorist camp Pakistan hosted, be it on a hilltop or forest, and strike with precise brute force when needed. And do it intelligently. So within hours of the strike, India launched an equally precise diplomatic offensive, briefing envoys and telling the world that the “intelligence-led operation” on Jaish’s biggest training camp in Balakot became “absolutely necessary” as it was planning more suicide attacks in India. It calibrated its response, emphasising there weren’t any civilian casualties or collateral damage, that it stayed clear of human habitation and Pakistan Army facilities and, hence, had stayed clear of an “act of war.” More so, by mentioning that the camp was run by none other than Jaish chief Masood Azhar’s kin, Yousuf Azhar, it pin-pointed that it went after a man who was on the global watchlist and was jumping a lookout notice. Which is why international reaction has been tepid, too, with even a China not going beyond asking both countries to “exercise restraint” henceforth. Clearly, we have the tacit support of the US, France, Israel, Russia and Iran.
In short, post Uri and Pulwama, there is a new template for our counter-terrorism approach. For there was a number of firsts. This was the first aerial attack where IAF jets evaded Pakistani air defences and dropped 1,000 kg bombs deep inside, showing that the whole of Pakistan was easily under India’s attack arc, that it could jam even US radar systems that our neighbour prided in. By choosing a hidden away terror training camp, the IAF proved that it could smoke out the toughest targets. India even called the frequent nuclear bluff of Pakistan, which has claimed the right of escalation, but on paper is limited in its ability and funds to do so. Finally, we have successfully included the phrase “non-military, pre-emptive strike” into our lexicon, which leaves us with many options to beat non-state actors that Pakistan has used to needle and provoke us. However, the airstrikes have also meant that hereon, there can be no lowering our guard and preparedness given an unpredictable Pakistan. It does have Chinese jets and F-16s with upgraded avionics. And with Jaish linked to Taliban, which is increasing its political footprint in the reason, Pakistan will but have to yield to pressure to react. Back home, the Modi government definitely has got some firepower prior to the general elections, positioning itself as a deliverer versus the pusillanimous leadership of decades, avenging Kandahar by targetting key plotter Yousuf Azhar and attempting some salve for Pulwama. As for the Opposition, the strikes certainly take the fizz out of the Rafale debate considering Mirage 2000, its precursor, is also made by Dassault and its capability has only reinforced why we need these jets. And though mahagathbandhan leaders saluted the IAF, fact is they will have trouble coming up with another emboldening, nationalist narrative.
Courtesy & Writer : The Pioneer