When India successfully conducted night airstrikes deep into Pakistan on 26th February 2019 to demolish a major training facility of the Pak-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) at Balakot in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan as also two terrorist camps in the POK (Pak Occupied Kashmir) at Muzaffarabad and Chakhoti, respectively, Pakistan was stunned by this unexpected retaliation of Pulwama attack.
Pakistan expected India to exercise strategic restraint as it has been exhibiting in the past, despite being subjected to extremely provocative cross-border terrorist activities by Pakistan. Pakistan was ardently following ‘Death by thousand cuts’ as an instrument of state policy. The attacks carried out by IAF Mirage 2000 aircraft using the state of art precision-guided munitions (PGMs) and AGM-142 (Popeye-2) missiles left Pakistan with a feeling of shock and awe.
Surgical Strike 2.0
First ‘Surgical Strike’ was restricted to a short distance of the LoC. In the ‘Surgical Strike-II’, India demonstrated annihilating any doubt that it would not think twice before conducting terror operations even deep inside, including Pakistan’s sovereign territory.
Aerial strikes against a nuclear-armed adversary were indeed unprecedented. Pre-emptive self-defence has hitherto been exclusive prerogative of the Western powers. The spectacular airstrikes by India were not a mere razzmatazz but a symbolic assertion of its right to exercise pre-emptive self-defence.
Delusion of Pak that its army and intelligence services could continue to wage a low-cost proxy war against Indian military targets in Kashmir had been broken. Delhi also conveyed in no uncertain terms to Islamabad that India can and will impinge unpredictable damage as a consequence to its state-sponsored terror attacks against India.
Lacklustre Response by Pakistan
On 27thFebruary 2019, Pakistan launched an air attack into Indian Territory which nonetheless was effectively thwarted by Indian Air Force. During the skirmish both sides lost an aircraft each, a Mig-21 Bison (Bis upgrade) and an F-16. Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman who was flying Mig-21 reported the radar lock on an enemy aircraft, and fired an R-73 Russian origin missile just as he himself was hit.