While the rest of India slept, Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force crossed the Line of Control and razed a terrorist training camp in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.
While the rest of India slept, Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force crossed the Line of Control and razed a terrorist training camp in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. The early morning news was that three locations were targeted, but the statement from the Ministry of External Affairs was restricted to Balakot, the biggest training camp of JeM headed by Maulana Yousuf Azhar alias Ustad Ghouri, brother-in-law of JeM chief Masood Azhar. News later trickling in said that Yousuf Azhar was killed in the strike. Masood Azhar was moved to a safe house.
Retaliation of some sort from India was to be expected, after the suicide attack on an army convoy that killed 40 jawans earlier this month in Pulwama. The air strikes across the Line of Control that razed the Balakot terrorist training camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), came after there was credible intelligence that the JeM was attempting another suicide terror attack in India, and the fidayeen jihadis were being trained for this.
This, however, as per the statement read out by the Foreign Secretary, is in the nature of a pre-emptive strike, fearing more attacks on Indian soil. The strikes, therefore, do not make it retaliation of any sort and cannot be construed as aggressive military action. India acted based on intelligence, to safeguard its people from further terror attacks. But, will Pakistan now act to dismantle all terrorist training camps in the country?
Though Pakistan cries foul and claims that it reserves the right to retaliate at a time of its choosing, it is no secret that JeM, which stands banned by the United Nations, is headquartered in that country and is responsible for a number of attacks in India in the past. The mere denial by Pakistan of their existence, despite being provided with evidence by India, does not wish away their presence. Pakistan has been urged to act against the terror organization, but has never taken any initiative in this. The choice left to India was either to face more attacks or pre-empt them by military strikes. It chose the latter, an action that has met with the approval of the polity.
Yet, with elections looming, the air strikes should not be converted into a political issue. The opposition has backed the government action, and the people too have in general accepted it. Given this, the ruling alliance partners should not attempt to gain any electoral advantage over the other parties, by bragging about the air strike. This is an action for India, and turning it into an election issue, will reduce it to a political stunt. We would like to believe that an election stunt it was not. Can it be kept that way?
India’s task is, however, far from over. The Kashmir issue remains unresolved and Pakistan still does not admit that there are terrorist training camps within its boundaries. In January 2004 Pakistan committed to now allow territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India. It has, however, not lived up to this commitment. International pressure has to be applied on Pakistan to act against the terrorist camps that are being harboured in the country.
Terror attacks against innocent citizens will not facilitate a solution to any problem, neither will retaliatory measures, it will only aggravate it. India’s security forces are now on high alert. This understanding of arriving at a solution to stop the terror has to percolate to the Pakistani authorities so that the subcontinent can become a safe place. As long as the terrorist training camps are running, the Kashmir issue will not be solved. It can only be discussed and a solution found when peace prevails.