The Pulwama attack, which took place on February 14, 2019, was one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. In response to the attack, the Indian government launched airstrikes on Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) camps in Balakot, Pakistan on February 26, 2019. The strikes were hailed as a major success by the Indian government and military, but their effectiveness and impact have been subject to scrutiny and analysis.
The Balakot airstrikes were a significant departure from India’s traditional response to terrorist attacks, which had been largely limited to cross-border firing and small-scale operations. The strikes were carried out by the Indian Air Force (IAF) and involved the use of Mirage 2000 fighter jets, laser-guided bombs, and precise intelligence on the location of the JeM camps. The Indian government claimed that the strikes had destroyed a significant number of JeM camps and killed a large number of militants, including senior commanders.
The Indian government’s decision to launch the Balakot airstrikes was driven by a number of factors. First, the attack had caused significant public outrage and demands for a strong response from the government. Second, there were concerns about the effectiveness of India’s counterterrorism strategy in Jammu and Kashmir and the need for a more aggressive approach. Third, the Indian government was keen to send a message to Pakistan about its support for terrorist groups and its responsibility to take action against them.
The Balakot airstrikes were met with a mixed response from the international community. While the United States, United Kingdom, and France supported India’s right to defend itself, China and Pakistan criticized the strikes as a violation of Pakistani sovereignty and a potential threat to regional stability. The impact of the strikes on the ground was also subject to debate. While the Indian government claimed that the strikes had destroyed a significant number of JeM camps and killed a large number of militants, there was little independent verification of these claims. The Pakistani government denied that the strikes had caused any significant damage or casualties.
The aftermath of the Balakot airstrikes was marked by a further escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan. Pakistan launched a retaliatory airstrike on Indian military targets, which led to a dogfight between Indian and Pakistani fighter jets and the capture of an Indian Air Force pilot. The crisis was ultimately defused through diplomatic efforts, but it highlighted the potential risks of military escalation between the two nuclear-armed countries.
In conclusion, the Balakot airstrikes were a significant response by the Indian government to the Pulwama attack. While the strikes were seen as a success by the Indian government, their impact and effectiveness are still subject to debate and analysis. The strikes also led to a further escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan and raised concerns about the risks of military conflict in the region. The Balakot airstrikes highlight the need for a more nuanced and effective approach to counterterrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as the importance of diplomacy and dialogue in preventing a larger crisis between India and Pakistan.