Professor Dr. Ahmed Saeed Minhas

Today marks the 4th anniversary of Operation Swift Retort undertaken by Pakistan Airforce Falcons against Indian uncalled-for aggression at Balakot. Swift Retort can truly be called as one of the best trans-frontier air operations with an aim of deterring against any further aggression by the Indian side. Pakistan’s response was swift, bold and calculated that engaged spots short of actual targets which demonstrates Pakistan Air Force confidence, pre planning of vital targets and professional competence. The intentional bombing away from important targets shows that Pakistan never wanted to escalate thereby proving being a responsible nuclear weapons state that aims to deter. It also clearly manifests that unlike war mongering Indian military and Hindutva tainted political leadership, Pakistani counterparts demonstrated patience, rationality and responsibility before crossing Indian border. Pakistan’s Armed Forces and political leadership collectively vowed to maintain and ensure perpetual respect to its sovereignty.

Had Pakistan behaved impulsively, it could have fed Indian nefarious designs inter-alia maligning Pakistan for being a state responsible for sponsoring terrorism, projecting Pakistani military and political leadership as irresponsible, projecting India as a regional policeman who can attack its neighbours at will on the pattern of the US and other superpowers, and above all sending a signal across the powerful nations that India qualifies for getting into club of super powers who can project its power beyond its borders at her free will. It was a strategic mistake committed by dozy and naive Indian military and political leadership who once again underestimated the resilient Pakistani nation and its armed forces. Pakistan Armed Forces did not take even a day to prepare and deliver a befitting response that would remain an Achilles heel for the Indian leadership. Indian Airforce miscalculated rather overestimated the operational preparedness of their pilots and morale of their deployed soldiers in Kashmir. Indian soldiers in IHK are globally known for their low morale, cribs for their poor welfare and lowest motivation to fight indigenous Kashmiri freedom movement which aims at getting rid of India. Much trumpeted Indian Airforce was badly exposed for their lack of operational preparedness, non-professionalism, pathetic coordination between ground and Airforce that resulted into fratricide, Indian pilots’ aerial engagement capabilities and above all maintenance standards of their old vintage

flying machines especially the Mig-21s, famously known to be ‘flying coffins’ for which Indian Airforce pilots have been making hue and cry on all kinds of media platforms. Retired and even serving IAF pilots have been voicing on media against their leadership for being insane and corrupt who do not care for their lives. Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was like a trophy of Operation Swift Retort who was returned unconditionally by the Pakistani leadership as a good will gesture and de-escalate after he sufficiently found Pakistani tea and hospitality fantastic. Pakistan’s timely gesture of releasing Indian captured pilot sent a positive signal across the globe and Indians had to face the strategic embarrassment.

Let’s analyse what factors made the operation Swift Retort a success. First and foremost was the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) that kept the nation and global audience informed about the true picture of Indian unprovoked aggression thus leaving no space for misinformation and propaganda by the Indian media. Its minute-to-minute pressors were an excellent catalyst to keep the nation motivated and ready to back its armed forces in case of escalation. Indian media and political leadership openly blamed their armed forces for bringing bad name to their country and admitted that it was the ISPR that single handedly defeated the complete Indian narratives. The stage set by the Director General ISPR was successfully optimized by the Pakistani lion-hearted PAF Falcons from the cockpits of their indigenously built F-7Ps using its advanced weaponry and agility. Pakistani Falcons brought down a Mig-21 (Bison) and Indian mainstay aircraft SU-30 in no time. Besides this, due to the fear of Pakistan Airforce and the hysteric behaviour, the Indian ground forces shot down their own helicopter. It was the worst embarrassment an Airforce could have. Losing three aircrafts and letting a senior pilot captured in a span of 5 minutes would keep reminding Indians to stop messing with Pakistan or in other words ‘lay-off’.

Follow up to Operation Swift Retort, Indian BJP led political leadership which is known to be followers of Hindutva Ideology, did make another strategic blunder as face saving act i.e. abrogation of Articles 35A and 370 from Indian Constitution that gave separate identity to the Kashmiris in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK). This has brought a new life and impetus to the Kashmir Freedom Movement. Due to Pakistani diplomatic manoeuvres, the world at large took a serious note of the Indian leadership act. In order to avoid the diplomatic pressure, the Indian military and political leadership has been planning to conduct false flag operations in which innocent Indian soldiers would be killed by self- choreographed attack either by an IED or bomb blast.

Obviously, such an act would result into casualties of Indian soldiers which shall be exploited as an opportunity to launch attack on Pakistan – this time well-coordinated.
In recent weeks Pakistani intelligence agencies have foiled two such attempts which by no means is in favour of regional peace. Indian leadership should not forget that the Pakistani military soldiers and officers are trained on Indian operational choices. Miscalculation can result into a cost that may not go in favour of gains.

Let’s be rational. Indian extremist political leadership is looking for 3rd tenure in office by yet again capitalizing on Anti-Pakistan slogans, for the sake of making India a Hindu State – a clear departure from Gandhi’s slogan of being seculars. World powers have to check the Indian fascist designs which may engulf the complete South Asian Region in a state of war that has three nuclear powers sharing the geographical borders. Indian political leadership use ideologies of terrorism and extremism as tools for religiously hegemonizing India. Religion minorities are being cornered. World has to act fast to address the war seeking Indian leadership. Pakistani armed forces are ready to respond better than Operation Swift Retort this time which shall be beyond Indian imagination. In nutshell the Operation Swift Retort symbolises text book definition of military surprise, information management and coordination at tri-services level. However, Nation’s Backing was the rider clause that resulted into successful conduct of the operation. Unfortunately, it seems that Indian side has learnt the central reason of their failure and targeted nation’s will.

Notwithstanding, Pakistan’s strategic culture tells a different story. Pakistani nation and especially the youth are emotional and highly nationalistic. Whatever the differences or tangent thoughts they may have at domestic front due to onslaught of narratives / misinformation as part or tools of 5th generation warfare, they don’t take a second to get united under Pakistani flag against any foreign aggression. Pakistan remains FIRST for Pakistanis. India must threadbare Pakistan strategic culture lest it’s too late for them to retrieve from yet another misadventure.

Professor Dr. Ahmed Saeed Minhas is Pro-Vice Chancellor at DHA Suffa University, Karachi. He can be reached at [email protected]