By Vishal Narayan
New Delhi, Feb 26 (IANS) Top retired military brass have hailed the Tuesday morning bombing of terrorist bases in Pakistan by the Indian Air Force (IAF) as a move “long overdue”, while cautioning that Islamabad, unable to escalate militarily, may react by intensifying terrorist activities in India.
The IAF bombed Jaish-e-Mohammed’s (JeM) biggest training camp at Balakot in early hours of Tuesday, inflicting heavy casualties. Within hours, Pakistan threatened a “befitting response”. The air raid came 12 days after a JeM suicide bomber killed 40 CRPF troopers near Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir.
“It was an appropriate and calibrated response by India. I must compliment the government for taking the decision and the IAF for executing it. It was a necessary step, because at one point a stage is reached when the camel has that one last straw on its back, and you have to respond,” former Army Chief Ved Prakash Malik told IANS.
He said though Pakistan has the option of escalating militarily, it is more likely to respond by intensifying terrorist activities in India “like it did after Kargil War”. “The way Pakistan is downplaying India’s attack, military action seems a less likely response,” he said.
Former IAF Chief A.Y. Tipnis called the attack an “excellent achievement” by the Indian Air Force. “This was a very credible, high order, real-time attack. Because terrorists have this doctrine, they never stay at one place. Now, this was deep embedded training centre… therefore, having real-time intelligence, and acting upon it in time and space, is an outstanding achievement,” he said.
Pointing out that there was “every possibility” of escalation of tension between the two countries, the former Air Chief said, “I hope voices of sanity are heeded. There are lot of such voices among them, but the question is whether the ruling junta will listen to them.”
Former Vice Chief of the Army Arvinder Singh Lamba termed the attack “very successful” and said it was “warranted and long expected”. Lamba advised the Indian government to “expect a retaliation in different forms” and therefore “prepare” in advance.
“There will definitely be a spike in attempts of terror attacks. They will try to convey the message ‘you struck our sensitive targets, now we strike yours’. Now it’s up to us, how we protect ourselves,” Lamba said.
(Vishal Narayan can be contacted at [email protected])