As soon as I woke up today morning, my social media feeds were flooded with the news of an apparent air strike that the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out in Balakot, Pakistan at around 3 AM on 26th February 2019. Their target was a Jaish-e-Muhammad (JEM) training camp. This strike comes 12 days after the infamous Pulwama attack carried out by the JEM, where close to 40 CRPF jawaans were killed. Amid rising tension between India and Pakistan, and diplomatic relations between the 2 countries at an all time low, India decided to act in a ‘do or die’ manner.
Foreign Ministry secretary Vijay Gokhale said that according to Indian intelligence, JEM was planning a series of attack similar to the one they carried out in Pulwama (suicide attacks) in various parts of the country, and hence this air strike was deemed necessary. This was a preemptive strike and was a move from a purely defence point of view. According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), this JEM camp was far away from civilian population, and hence no innocents were harmed or killed.
For the pacifist in me, it is always hard to accept violence being used against any groups, even in the most extreme circumstances. But my rational side refuses to see any more martyrs on our side. It’s an internal war with no winners.
My personal thoughts aside, let’s address the legality of crossing LoC for hostile intervention. According to the Simla agreement signed between the two countries in July 1972, both countries have to refrain from use of force that is in violation of the LoC. Another provision in the agreement states that both countries have to share any information that poses a threat to either of the countries. When Pulwama attack happened, Pakistan PM Imran Khan agreed to immediately act on any actionable intelligence that India could provide. He had even agreed to an external probe into JEM’s association with Pakistani government if it was required.
CRPF jawaans dying in a terrorist attack has angered everyone, but a diplomatic approach to this ‘intelligence’ would have been a lot better than such extreme use of force. We don’t want a full fledged war with Pakistan, who is a nuclear country by the way. This act of aggression could cost the people of India dearly.
Whenever I try to reason with people about military actions having political inclination, they often get offended and try to dismiss me by saying ‘politics doesn’t have a place here’. To those people I ask, who do you think is incharge of Indian army and troops? They don’t act independently or of their own accord. Their leadership includes the President, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence. So it is only logical to infer that any decision that is made regarding the Indian army, is in part driven by some political gains. And with the Lok Sabha Elections coming up in April 2019, it is only natural for a critic like me to wonder if this strike was indeed driven by some political propaganda. And I simply cannot believe that there wasn’t a better way to prevent an attack on the Indian soil.
At the end of the day, this attack is going to cost us. Any country will retaliate in a scenario like this. And while common people everywhere will be at risk, politicians who actually took this decision will be safe in their bunkers or leave the country.
And I will not be satisfied with this decision until and unless the following questions are answered.
- How reliable was this intelligence about JEM training camp? Where did it come from?
- Is there proof that no civilians were harmed?
- Is there proof that JEM members were killed? If yes, how many?
- Where did the order for the final strike come from?