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International Relations

India Bombs Jaish-e-Muhammad Camp in Pakistan

  • 27 Feb 2019
  • 8 min read

Twelve days after the Pulwama attack, in an aerial surgical strike, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has bombed the Jaish-e-Mohammad’s (JeM) terror-training camp in Balakot in the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

  • The operation was carried out by 12 Mirage-2000 fighter jets, after intelligence inputs that the said JeM facility is crowded with 200-325 terrorists.

India’s Statement

  • India has said that the strike was based on hard intelligence inputs about the presence of terrorists in the camp.
    • By calling it an intelligence-led operation, the government was trying to send a message to the global audience that the airstrikes were not done at some arbitrarily chosen place but were part of a well-considered action.
  • India said that strike was “non-military preemptive action” was important for two reasons:
    • By calling it non-military, India wanted to reassure everyone that it is not an act against the Pakistani military.
    • The words “preemptive action” were to suggest that the airstrike was not an act of revenge or retribution but an act of self-defense to prevent a likely terror attack in the future.

International Response

  • India has received support for its air strike from several countries like Australia and France.
    • The countries recognized India’s right to self-defense, and asked Pakistan to put an end to operations of terrorist groups established on its territory,.
  • The US said that India and Pakistan should exercise restraint, and avoid escalation at any cost and avoid further military activity.
  • The British government called on India and Pakistan to pursue diplomatic solutions.
  • China has said that the two countries should keep restraint and do more to improve bilateral relations.
  • With the exception of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, there has been no global criticism of India’s statement on the strikes.

Analysis

  • The Indian Air Force’s strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammad terror training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot delivers a robust but calibrated message that India can strike deep inside Pakistan for its self-defense.
  • Airstrikes by the Indian Air Force establishes a new threshold between the two nuclear neighbors for an Indian response to a terror attack.
  • This was the first time Indian fighter jets have crossed Line of Control, since 1971. Even during the Kargil war in 1999, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had drawn a red line over the IAF crossing the LoC, to avoid international recrimination.
  • Along with these surgical strikes, India is also working diplomatically to isolate Pakistan.

What is a Surgical Strike?

  • A surgical strike is a swift and targeted attack on a specific target that aims to neutralize them while ensuring minimum collateral damage to the surrounding areas and civilians.
  • India has conducted surgical strikes in 2015 in Myanmar against the insurgent groups and in 2016 in Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir against terror launch pads along the line of control.

How is it carried out?

  • These attacks can be carried out via air raids, airdropping special operations teams or a ground operation.

The significance of Surgical Strike

  • Neutralization of targets with surgical strikes also prevents escalation to a full-blown war.
  • Surgical strikes are part of India’s Cold Start doctrine and have proved effective in foiling infiltration bid by terrorist groups across the LoC.

Cold Start Doctrine

  • The ‘Cold Start’ doctrine of the Indian Armed Forces envisages swift deployment of troops on the western border within days if a situation of a full-blown war arises.
  • This doctrine aims to allow Indian forces to conduct sustained attacks while preventing a nuclear retaliation from Pakistan. The operation would be carried out by a unified battle group involving various branches of India’s military.
  • The Cold Start doctrine sought to prepare the army in such a manner that offensive operations could be undertaken within 48 hours of the orders being issued, enabling the Indian troops to take their Pakistani counterparts by surprise.

Way Forward

  • Pakistan has denied that the Indian strike caused any damage on the ground. This may obviate the need for retaliatory strikes, or if Pakistan responds this could escalate the situation with a military response.
  • Pakistan could also make a break from its past, and begin to shut down the terror camps on its soil, which would win friends internationally and ensure peace in the region.
  • Surgical strikes are not a one-stop solution, uprooting terrorism will require sustained efforts on by India diplomatically at the global level, which also includes the adoption of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT).

Systems Used

  • Mirage-2000
    • The Dassault Mirage 2000 is a French multirole, single-engine fourth-generation jet fighter manufactured by Dassault Aviation. It was designed in the late 1970s.
  • SPICE 2000
    • SPICE stands for ‘Smart, Precise Impact and Cost-Effective’ a kit which converts a conventional bomb into a smart munition and is manufactured by Rafael of Israel. The ‘2000’ refers to a bomb of 2,000 pounds (about 1,000 kg).
  • Crystal Maze Mk2
    • Crystal Maze Mk2 also called AGM 142 Popeye is a precision-guided munition (PGM).
    • The PGM enable the aircraft to release them from stand-off distances while staying away from harm’s way and the munitions glide to the target once launched.
  • NETRA AEW&C
    • The IAF also deployed the Israeli Phalcon and indigenous Netra early warning aircraft to monitor the mission — to direct the aircraft
    • IAF also used a Heron long-range Unmanned Aerial Vehicle that was used for monitoring and assessment.
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