By Sukant Deepak
New Delhi, Oct 29 (IANS) Insisting that across the world, civilized countries were demonstrating reduced tolerance levels against terrorism, Air Marshal (retd.) C. Hari Kumar, who was the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Air Command, and personally supervised the planning and successful execution of the IAF strikes in Balakot sector told IANS, “It has now become important that countries take a pro-active approach and strike at terrorists at their home bases.”
Stressing that the Balakot strikes were an example of perfect synergy between RAW, NSA, Ministry of Defence and the armed forced, he said that obtaining reliable intelligence was paramount in the fight against extremism. “During the Balakot mission, we had precise information, and could therefore avoid collateral damage, something which is very important.”
Insisting that the Indian defence forces were anticipating a response to Balakot, and were not caught unawares when the Pakistani Air Force (PAF) jets entered Indian territory through Kashmir a few days after the strikes, Kumar added, “It was just a question of when they would do it. We knew they would, and were fully prepared for it.”
Brushing aside claims by a section of foreign media on the success of Balakot strikes, Kumar responded, “Well, everybody has a right to opinion, right?”
All for employing air assets against terrorist hideouts, the former Western Air Command chief commented, “Modern technology allows you to be extremely precise. It’s never just the question of destroying the enemy, but also ascertaining that the civilian population is not caught in the crossfire.”
Stating that the induction of the 4.5 generation Rafale combat jet from France would give the much-needed edge to the Indian Air Force, Kumar said, “From avionics to weapon systems, this aircraft is bound to be a shot in the arm for the Indian Air Force.”
Earlier, speaking at the book launch of ‘Once there was a country called Pakistan’ authored by Wing Commander (retd.) S.K. Sharma, Kumar said that a country like Pakistan, with its economy in a downward spiral and an all-time low foreign exchange reserve should pay more attention to uplifting its common people than interfering in the affairs of its neighbours.