Highlights of Indian Air Force Strikes on Terrorist Camps in Pakistan

Md. Sadiq
27 February 2019

India responded to the Pulwama terrorist attack of 14 february 2019 by an air attack on a major terrorist camp inside Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunwa province in the early hours of 26 February. For the first time since 1971 Indo-Pak war, Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out pre-dawn air strikes pounding Jaish-e-Mohammed's biggest training camp at Balakote, about 80 kilometers deep inside Pakistan from the Line of Control (LoC), killing over 350 terrorists including top commanders of JeM, trainers and recruits. The fighter jets pounded it with laser guided bombs weighing over 1000 kilograms. Twelve Mirage 2000 aircraft of the Indian Air Force targeted the camp of the Pakistan-based terror group, which had accepted responsibility for the February 14 suicide attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama. Forty men of the Central Reserve Police Force had lost their lives. The government said the air strikes were planned in view of intelligence reports that Jaish was planning more terror attacks in India.

See Updates at the bottom of this page.

The highlights:

1. In the early morning hours of Feb 26, IAF conducted a precision hit on a vast, advanced, training camp at Balakot in KPK Pakistan.

2. Balakot was an important training Center for the JeM and other terror organisations. It had several structures to accommodate terrorist trainees and facilities to train them. It was used for battle inoculation.

3. Before the inception of JeM, the camp was also used by Hizb ul Mujahideen.

4. Inspirational lectures were delivered by Masood Azhar and other terrorist leaders on several occasions.

5. Situated on Kunhar river, the camp offered possibility of aquatic training to terrorists also. The camp housed more than two hundred terrorists. The trainers were ex-Army personnel.

6. The terrorists were imparted the advanced Daura e Khaas training in weapons, explosives and field tactics, tactics for attacking SF convoys, planting and making IEDs, preparations for suicide bombing, rigging vehicles for suicide attacks and survival tactics in high altitudes and extreme-stress situations.

7. JeM specialises in fidayeen actions and gives immense importance to religious indoctrination and ideological brainwashing. Masood Azhar's relatives and cadres were trained at Balakot in advanced weapons and tactics.

NDTV reported that the "camp at Balakot - around 80 km from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir or PoK - was the 'heart of suicide bombers,'...The huge facility, located on a hilltop and hidden by thick forests, housed a number of terrorists. The pre-dawn attack today had eliminated around 300 terrorists, including Yousuf Azhar, Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar's brother-in-law, sources said. Yousuf Azhar, who was in charge of the camp, was one of the three terrorists involved in the hijack of the IC-814 in 1999. The seven-day hostage crisis had led to the release of Masood Azhar, who was in an Indian jail at the time, along with two other terrorists. 'This has been a camp for many years and has been historically been used... There were trainers and trainers of trainers,' sources said. Before Jaish was formed by Masood Azhar, the camp was also used by Hizbul Mujahideen. The trainers were former army personnel. The terrorists were given training in the use of advanced weapons, explosives and field tactics, strategy for attacks convoys, manufacture and planting of Improvised Explosive Devices, preparations for suicide bombing, rigging vehicles for suicide attacks and survival in high altitude and extreme-stress situations. Situated on Kunhar river, the camp offered possibility of aquatic training to terrorists. Masood Azhar and other terrorist leaders used to come here to conduct religious indoctrination and ideological training of the recruits."

Wrong Pakistani assessment of global response to Indian strike: New Delhi stressed this was an intelligence-based counter terror strike and not a military action for sake of war. ANI quoting sources Dean of Diplomatic Corps, Hans Castellanos: Satisfied that Indian govt has had such a rapid response in informing Heads of Missions. The info is that they did not affect any civilian or any Pak military installation, that it was direct attack due to credible intelligence received.

Pakistani strategic expert felt India would find it difficult to isolate Pakistan internationally since 'now Pakistan is engaged with multiple international players. In the words of the chief of Inter-Services Public Relations, 'India could not isolate Pakistan. Everyone wants to talk to Islamabad. Western countries that can't talk to China or Russia use us (Pakistan) as an interlocutor.' The US reliance on Pakistan for a successful deal with the Taliban, the Saudi crown prince's Islamabad visit and so on seem to have lulled the Pakistan Army into believing in its self-importance, while the truth is most countries today see Pakistan as a vicious promoter of terrorism and regional instability.

Pakistani response: Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, the director general (DG) of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), held a press conference on Tuesday evening, debunking India's claims on the Line of Control (LoC) violation earlier in the day. Indian military planes had violated the LoC early on Tuesday, intruding from the Muzaffarabad sector, following which 'Pakistan Air Force immediately scrambled' and Indian aircraft went back, the ISPR DG had shared via Twitter. 'Today, the prime minister has asked everyone to get ready for every eventuality. We are all ready. Now it is time for India to wait for our response,' he asserted. 'The response will come at a point and time of our choosing where our civil military leadership decides."

Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations, Ghafoor, said the airstrike did not cause any damage to any life or property in Pakistan. A reporter asked him if the "monkeys" needed to be shut down. Ghafoor said, "I'll use your words. We will shut these monkeys down. And not the way they do it. Not through lies. We will do and let the whole Pakistan and the entire world know."

US asks Pakistan to take 'meaningful action' against terrorist groups: The US on Wednesday firmly asked Pakistan to take "meaningful action" against terrorist groups operating on its soil and underscored the importance of avoiding escalation at any cost after India targeted terrorist camp in Pakistan. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a phone call with the Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also called for avoiding military action.


Friday, 1 March 2019

Pak Heavily Shells Border Villages In Poonch; 9-month-old Among 3 Of Family Killed
A nine-month-old child was among three of a family, who were killed while two others were injured when Pakistani troops on Friday evening heavily shelled forward posts and villages in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir. 'Pakistani Army, at around 1930 hrs, heavily fired in Salotri village of Jallas in Poonch sector,' police sources here said.

After an anxious wait stretching into hours, Wing Commander Abhinandan Vartha-man crossed into India from Pakistan via the Attari-Wagah border at 9.20 pm today. He was received by the BSF DIG, JS Oberoi, and other officials. 'It is good to be back in my country,' was Abhinandan's first reaction as he set his foot back on Indian soil. He landed in Delhi late at night and was given a rousing welcome at the Palam airport, from where he was taken to a medical facility for examination. Wing Commander Abhinandan's MiG-21 was shot and he bailed out after bringing down Pakistan's F-16 fighter during a dogfight on Wednesday.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

IAF Happy for Pilot's Release
Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor: We are happy that our pilot who had fallen across the Line of Control and was in custody of Pakistan is being released, we're extremely happy to have him back. We only see it as a gesture which is in consonance with all Geneva conventions.

India Shows Evidence of F-16 Deployment

India showed evidence of the use of F-16 fighter jets despite the US having banned Islamabad from using these in any offensive role. 'There is enough evidence to show F-16s were used in this mission and Pakistan is trying to hide this fact,' Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor said at a press briefing here late in the evening. He was talking about Pakistan Air Force (PAF) breaching the LoC on Wednesday. 'The fact remains one PAF F-16 was shot down by an IAF MiG-21 Bison aircraft,' he said. The IAF officer was countering Pakistan's claim that F-16s were not used and no Pakistani plane was downed by Indian Air Force. The IAF presented parts of AMRAAM missile, carried by the PAF only on F-16s, which was recovered from the east of Rajouri in Indian territory. Flanked by Major General Surinder Mahal and Rear Admiral DS Gujral, Air Vice Marshal Kapoor said they had credible proof that target was destroyed in their strike on Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Balakot, Pakistan. 'It is premature to give the number of casualties,' he said. [Tribune]

Pakistan Violates Ceasefire
A woman was killed and a soldier and two women were critically injured as the Pakistani army shelled civilian areas and forward posts in Mendhar and Nowshera sectors along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch and Rajouri districts on Thursday. The deceased has been identified as 33-year-old Naseem Akhter, a resident of Chajla, Mendhar. Lt Col Davender Anand, PRO defence, said the Pakistani army had initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation by shelling mortars in the KG sector at 6 am and again around 1 pm, at 2 pm in the Nowshera sector, at 3 pm in Sunderbani, Mankot, Khari Karmara, Degwar along the LoC. 'The Army retaliated strongly,' he said. A day after Pakistan jets were pushed back before targeting any major Army installations in Rajouri and Poonch districts by the IAF, the Pakistani army has been targeting forward posts and civilian areas with heavy mortar shelling and firing. The areas affected by the Pakistan shelling include Krishna Ghati (KG), Degwar, Mankot and Balakot in Poonch and Kalal, Baba Khori, Kalsian and Sunderbani in Rajouri. Lt Col Davender Anand, PRO defence, said the Pakistan army had initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation by shelling mortars in the KG sector at 6 am and again around 1 pm, at 2 pm in the Nowshera sector, at 3 pm in Sunderbani, Mankot, Khari Karmara, Degwar along the LoC. 'The Army retaliated strongly and effectively,' he said. [Agencies]

Pakistan Appeals To China For Help Easing Conflict With India
Pakistan has approached China to mediate in its conflict with India, saying it hopes Beijing can play a constructive role in easing the tensions. The request was made late Wednesday night in a phone call from Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, according to a statement published on the Chinese foreign ministry's website on Thursday. Qureshi told Wang about the latest developments in the conflict and expressed his hope that Beijing would continue to play a role in helping to resolve it, the statement said. [South China Morning Post]

International community calls for restraint
The US, China, Russia, UK, Turkey have expressed serious concern over the escalation of hostilities between India and Pakistan, urging both countries to show restraint. US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo urged India and Pakistan to avoid further escalation “at any cost” and to “prioritise direct communication”. In a statement issued by his office in Washington, Pompeo said that he spoke with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj. “I expressed to both ministers that we encourage India and Pakistan to exercise restraint, and avoid escalation at any cost,” he said. “I also encouraged both ministers to prioritise direct communication and avoid further military activity.” [agencies]

India Expects Mig-21 pilot to be Returned with Dignity
India expects Wing Commander #AbhinandanVartaman to be returned immediately, there is no question of any deal. If Pakistan thinks they have a card to negotiate with then they are mistaken. India expects the Wing Commander to be treated in a humane manner. India did not target any civilians or military installations, but Pakistan escalated by targeting Indian military installations. India did not deliberately cross LoC, very strong demarches have been given. India has foiled Pak attempts at creating a war psychosis. Indian defence ministry sources believe believe that the Pakistan air intrusion was an attack on military installations. We believe that the Indian Air Force Pilot was ill treated by the Pakistan Army in violation of the Geneva convention.[ANI]

'Ready For Talks', Says Imran Khan As Border Tension Escalates
Amid heightened tension across the border, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday offered to defuse tensions with India and resolve the issues through talks. 'All wars in world history have been miscalculated; those who started the wars did not know where it would end,' Imran Khan said in a live TV address. 'So, I want to ask India, with the weapons you and we have, can we afford miscalculation?,' he asked. 'If a war takes place, it will not be in my or (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi's control. If you want any kind of talks on terrorism, we are ready. Better sense must prevail. We should sit down and talk,' he said.

IAF Foils Major PAF Plot To Target Key Army Installations On LoC
In yet another major success, which comes just a day after Indian Air Force (IAF) destroyed Jaish-e-Mohammed's biggest training camp at Balakote deep inside Pakistan, the IAF fighter jets today repulsed major Pakistan Air Force (PAF) attempt to cause extensive damage on Indian troops positions or infrastructure by shooting down PAF's F-16 fighter aircraft and forcing others to beat the hasty retreat in Rajouri and Poonch sectors but, in the process, lost fighter MiG-21 Bison jet, whose pilot Wing Commander Abhin-andan Varthaman ejected in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and was held captive by the Pakistan army. Highly placed sources told the Excelsior that at around 9.45 am, Indian radar systems including Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) and ground systems observed simultaneous activity at different Pakistani air bases in Rawalpindi, Sargodha and Islamabad. A formation of 10 PAF jets took off at 9.50 am and it was observed that the fighter jets started gathering together over Northern areas of Pakistan in an attempt to attack Indian targets in parts of Jammu and Kashmir. IAF's Air Defence network was activated immediately and five combat aircrafts including two MiG-21s and three Sukhoi-30s were scrambled from Awantipora and Srinagar airfields, which were closest to the area of intrusion in Nowshera sector of Rajouri district. While three Pakistani jets violated Indian air space, the package of the aircrafts deployed by PAF for the operation was 'significantly large' as it comprised a fleet of JF-17 and F-16 combat aircrafts, sources said, adding the Pakistani jets targeted the Indian Army bases in Krishna Ghati and Nangi Tekri in Poonch district and an ammunition point at Narian in Nowshera sector of Rajouri district. Sources revealed that the PAF jets had an Indian Army Brigade Headquarters and an ammunition point as their target when they dropped three non-guided bombs on them but missed the target with significant distance. Images from the site of exploded ordnance revealed shallow craters in grassy knolls. Minutes after Pakistani jets violated the Indian air space, the IAF's MiG-21 and Sukhoi jets engaged with the enemy jets and successfully thwarted their attempts to bomb a number of key military installations. In the ensuing engagement, a MiG-21 Bison of the IAF shot down a Pakistani jet, F-16, firing an R-73 air-to-air missile before being hit. It was not clear whether the IAF jet was fired from a Pakistani jet or was brought down by a missile attack by ground-based air defence, sources said. [Daily Exceslior]

US, UK And France Ask UN Security Council To Ban Masood Azhar
The US, the UK and France have moved a fresh proposal in the UN Security Council to designate Pakistan-based terror group JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, a listing that will subject him to global travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo. The fresh proposal was moved Wednesday by the three permanent veto-wielding members of the 15-nation Security Council. The Security Council Sanctions Committee will have 10 working days to consider the fresh proposal submitted by the three members. The proposal is the fourth such bid at the UN in the last 10 years to list Azhar as a global terrorist.

Md Sadiq

27 February 2019