The attacks overnight followed nearly a fortnight of sabre- rattling between the nuclear-armed neighbours over the 14th February suicide bombing, in which India claimed that Pakistan had a “direct hand”. JeM is based in Pakistan but Islamabad rejected any responsibility for the attack. While exchanges of artillery and light weapons over the line are very common, intentional incursions by aircraft have not been publicly acknowledged since the two countries fought a war in 1971. The varying positions allowed India to trumpet its reprisal against Pakistan without forcing Islamabad to respond in a way that might spiral into a larger conflict.
With the application of new technologies and retaliation stratagem, India deployed 12 Mirage fighter jet against the illicit intruders and terrorist traders. India dropped 1,000 kilograms of bombs at terror launch pads across the LoC, completely destroying them as a hefty response to what happened to the innocent CRPF Jawans in Pulwama.
An attack on the larger Balakot is significant as it is the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, well into accepted Pakistani territory. With the use of IAF, the Modi government has sent a clear cut message to Pakistan that its adventurism would not go unanswered and India will employ all options on the table to answer in the language which it understands. Additionally, India also, with the use of IAF, dispelled the notion and false sense of security that terror protectors feel in Pakistan that any Indian response would be limited to within a limited range of the Line of Control. India has affirmed that it has the ability and the will to strike deep into Pakistan without any hesitation if so required.
Now the question before us is whether Pakistan wants to escalate the tensions by waging a counter- war or will the revanchist territory reach out for deliberation and talks? Whatever be the strategy but India has a more or less upper moral hand. Also, knowing the strength and abilities of Pakistan army, any rational person wouldn’t think that this strike will be enough to put an end to Pakistan’s thousand- cuts strategy to bleed India. However, this will definitely buy us an extended time for peace.
Pakistan is required to understand the political significance of the Indian action and think twice before escalation. The Pakistani military has downplayed the aerial strikes, which suggests that they want to control public opinion in the country and not pushed to retaliate. It would be unwise for them to do so as they have no easy option. Pakistan is also required to severe down its logistical, administrative and financial ties with terrorist bases and camps in order to stabilise itself as a nation of values. If Pakistan keep valuing these groups at the cost of global security and peace then that might be trivial to the security of the region as Pakistan is not at par with India when it comes to its security stockpiles.
However, Pakistan’s decision to downplay, if not deny, the Indian strike suggests that Islamabad may not be willing or capable of staging a major retaliation. Indian air strikes can generate tactical victories and deliver major political benefits- and particularly in an election year. But at the end of the day it is also well- understood that they won’t allow India to live with any less fear about terror emanating from its western neighbour.