One year of swift-retort

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Reema Shaukat
A year has passed for the Pulwama attack but the radicalism and staunch behaviour of India remains the same. The intentions and designs of India for Indian Held Kashmir have gone intense with the plans of demographic changes step by step. Same wave of Indian citizenship bill protests is quoted by analysts a move to break India within itself. Now the recent surge of violence in India’s New Delhi shows how intolerant society is becoming with some RSS followers as their leaders who without any vision give statements against Muslims in India and same behaviour is adopted for Pakistan where it is blamed for any misadventure in India-occupied Kashmir. India whenever is unable to handle the crisis in its country, finds the easiest way of blaming Muslims or Pakistan for it. Certainly it shows the mind-set of some specific groups that in their ideological persuasions adopt such behaviours.
On 27 of February 2019 India tried to violate air space of Pakistan which was effectively answered by Pakistan Air Force’s Swift Retort operation. India created a lot of fuss on Pulwama attack in February 2019 and blamed Pakistan for its so-called surgical strikes. According to media reports, on 14th of February 2019 nearly 44 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed and many others injured when terrorists targeted a convoy with a car bomb at Awantipora in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Reports suggested that the vehicle used by the terrorists was a Mahindra Scorpio carrying more than 350 kg of explosives. However Indian Home Ministry sources said that terrorists triggered the car bomb while 78 vehicles with over 2,500 CRPF men were on the Srinagar-Jammu highway. Jaish-e-Mohammed, a banned terrorist outfit claimed responsibility for the attack and Indian government like always without any investigations blamed Pakistan behind this attack by saying that Pakistan must stop supporting terrorists and terror groups operating from their territory. Indian false claims raised many questions about the nature of attack and later the blame game of surgical strikes questioned India’s own defence stature and capability.
India never thought that it will be exposed much on its domestic as well as international front about its failed plans to malign Pakistan. To start with Pulwama attack that caused casualties of Indian soldiers, Pakistan was immediately targeted by India through its media war. India without any proofs and evidences accused Pakistan for sponsoring that act of terrorism. To react first through its media and try to propagate about Pakistan as much as possible, Indian propaganda crossed all limits. India raided first by using air space and destroyed parts of a mostly uninhabited forest and a farmer’s field in an area near Balakot in Kashmir, but claimed of killing 300 plus people on its media. According to Indian media they conducted air raids against a Jaish-e-Muhammad training camp (a proscribed organization in Pakistan since 2002) in the area, saying “a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for suicide action were eliminated.”
Pakistan ensured that Indian claims of these surgical strikes are false ploy again as no casualties were found on ground and visits by media organizations and representatives confirmed Pakistani stance that no such air strikes were witnessed at the place called Jaba, which Indian media highlighted in its news. A day after Indian Air Force jets violated the Line of Control (LoC), Pakistan Air Force conducted strikes across the LoC from Pakistani airspace, operation was named as Swift Retort and shot down two Indian MIG-21 aircraft that had crossed the de-facto border. An Indian pilot, identified as Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, was taken into custody by Pakistan Army troops after his aircraft crashed within Pakistani territory while the other aircraft downed by PAF crashed on the Indian side of the LoC. Indian Air Force while finding no space for face saving over its loss of aircrafts claimed that they shot down a Pakistani F-16. Pakistan acting responsibly and on time cleared to Indian media that firstly, Pakistan did not use F-16s in the entire action and there is no news that a Pakistan plane was downed. It was cleared by Pakistani authorities that this response by Pakistan is actually not a retaliation. It was the demonstration of Pakistan’s capability, capacity and will. Pakistan never wants to escalate the situation and India must also understand need for regional peace as both nuclear armed neighbours can’t afford such type of military fiasco at any cost.
Pakistan while extending olive branch to India, handed over safely the captured Indian pilot. After dwindling with loose feathers in airspace, India tried to intrude through sea and an Indian submarine was also detected in Pakistani waters. But Pakistan Navy which not only sensed and engaged target, forced the aggressor submarine to go back and again clearly conveyed a message to India and rest of the world that Pakistan is not only peace loving country but wants peace in South Asia as its first priority. Modi last year in pursuit of his premiership for second time used anti-Pakistan narrative and that plot still exists in India with more intensity now against the Muslims and Pakistanis. Interestingly, India honoured its pilot with national award who was captured and returned by Pakistan without thinking that it’s a proof of failed Indian heavy defence investments, deals and arms race which it launches time and again to disturb strategic balance in South Asia.
— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.

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