New Delhi: The Indian military has been put on high alert after Tuesday’s IAF strike on terrorist camps in Pakistan, sources in the security establishment told ThePrint.
In a predawn strike early Tuesday, the IAF struck the “biggest camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)” in Balakot, less than two weeks after the terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack in Pulwama, Kashmir, that killed 40 CRPF personnel.
The strike, first made public in a series of tweets by Pakistan military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor, was confirmed by the Indian government Tuesday afternoon. It marks the first time since the 1971 war that the IAF crossed the LoC. Even during the Kargil battle, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had not allowed IAF fighter jets to cross the LoC.
Tuesday’s operation came a day after the Pakistan army chief met his air force counterpart for a review of defence preparedness.
Balakot lies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and the fact that Indian fighter jets entered so deep into Pakistani airspace and returned unscathed signifies a major failure for the country’s air defence system.
A big failure
After the JeM claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack, India had promised a tough response to terrorists and their abettors, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying the Indian military had been given a free hand.
Islamabad subsequently asked New Delhi to present evidence to prove Pakistan’s connection to the attack, and threatened to retaliate against any military action by India.
According to sources, the military was placed on high alert after the IAF strike, just as it happened in the aftermath of the September 2016 surgical strike carried out by the Indian Army in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to eliminate terrorist launchpads.
Indian and Pakistani fighter jets have been on high alert since the 14 February Pulwama attack, and flying increased sorties.
The portion of Indian airspace facing Pakistan comes under the command of the IAF’s Western Air Command. Any fighter jet coming within 10 km of the LoC is considered a violation but such instances have happened in the past.
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