‘Terrorism comes at a cost’: Ex-Indian Air Force chief says Balakot strikes ‘effectively conveyed’ message to Pakistan
India’s counter-terrorist strike in Pakistan made it crystal clear to any prospective attack mastermind or perpetrator that they can’t avoid imminent retaliation, a retired air force chief said following the Balakot raid.
“The message of Balakot… was to tell Pakistani establishments and terrorist organizations that there will be a cost to pay for terrorist attacks in India, which was effectively conveyed,” said former air chief marshal B S Dhanoa, who retired from service on September 30.
The ever-tense relations between neighboring India and Pakistan dramatically worsened in February this year following a terrorist attack which claimed 40 lives in Pulwama, and India’s swift retaliation against the alleged perpetrators, Jaish-e-Mohammad, across the border in Balakot.
Islamabad, which denies having any ties with terrorist groups, accused New Delhi of violating its sovereignty – and the very next day launched a series of strikes against various Indian military installations in Jammu and Kashmir, provoking a dogfight in the air.
That escalation essentially turned Pakistani forces into a “legitimate target,” Dhanoa stated. Fortunately, Pakistani strikes missed their targets, although Islamabad insisted that they never intended to hit anything, only demonstrate resolve and capability.
… had their strikes been successful, we would have put a considerable weight of attack on their forward brigades.
The former air chief admitted that some “stupid mistakes” were made during the skirmish. He did not mention specifics, but was apparently referring to India’s loss of a MiG-21 fighter jet and its failure to “impose significant costs” on the intruders.
Neither side risked escalating the situation any further, and the neighbors would eventually even exchange a number of friendly gestures. So, either India’s ‘message’ was received, or Pakistan assessed its chances as slim should larger-scale conventional warfare erupt, Dhanoa said.
Had they gone to war with us, they would have literally eaten the grass.
Despite relative calm in the military realm, politically the neighbors’ relations are currently again at a new low, after India revoked the self-governing status of the part of Kashmir it controls. New Delhi argues that the move will help the fight against terrorism, boost the region’s economy, and integrate it into the rest of India.
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