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India

Harvard school, CNAS: India has military edge over China

The memory of the war between an Indian Army left to fend for itself by the then Jawaharlal Nehru dispensation and a dogged People’s Liberation Army of China under Mao Zedong in 1962, where the former expectedly lost in the Himalayan region, troubles the collective memory of Indians. They worry about the possibility of another war with the same enemy that has not ceased to be expansionist. This is perhaps because a repeat of Chinese aggression in 1967, where the enemy ended up with a bloody nose, is not played up in media or books of history in this country. The troubling memory of ’62 revisited the democracy when 20 soldiers were killed in the night of 15 June, with the unarmed Indian Army personnel ambushed by the PLA that is not revealing its own toll. However, two think-tanks in the US believe China has more reasons to worry than India in the changed circumstances. While even 58 years ago China lost about 700 troops and India lost approximately double that, the conventional wisdom of a superior China has been challenged by the Belfer Center at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in Boston (“Harvard school” hereafter) and the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) in Washington.

The Harvard school and CNAS hold India is better off in high-altitude mountainous environments, such as the one the 2020 face-off is witnessing. While the fresh tensions are not expected to explode into a nuclear war, the two American institutions have considered the fact China has approximately 320 nuclear warheads and India has 150 (estimate by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute or SIRPI). Nevertheless, in an unlikely nuclear war, hundreds of atomic bombs are not required to devastate the target, thus ruling out the Chinese edge in this domain, which it increased by 40 warheads last year when India raised the number by 10, according to SIRPI.

The Harvard school and CNAS note that both countries have a triad of delivery systems — missiles, bombers and submarines — and ascribe to a “no first use” policy. This, they say, sidelines the first factor.

Indian Air Force better than PLAAF, says Harvard Kennedy School of Govt

Then the Harvard school notes India’s 270 fighters, 68 ground-attack aircraft and a string of small air bases near the Chinese border, which authors Frank O’Donnell and Alexander Bollfrass believe would come in handy for the democracy. The communist country has 157 fighters and a small fleet of ground-attack drones in the region, the Belfer study observes.

What puts China at a disadvantage is the fact that the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has eight bases in the region, mostly civilian, and they have awkward elevations. “The high altitude of Chinese air bases in Tibet and Xinjiang, plus the generally difficult geographic and weather conditions of the region, means that Chinese fighters are limited to carrying around half their design payload and fuel,” the study says.

The PLAAF not having enough aerial tankers to get the job done would mean that aerial refuelling, which could give the Chinese planes more payload and combat time, would happen in fits and starts, the Harvard school opines.

The institution says that the Indian Air Force (IAF)‘s Mirage 2000 and Sukhoi Su-30 jets are superior to China’s J-10, J-11 and Su-27 fighters. The Indian Mirage 2000 and Su-30 jets, Harvard school notes, are all-weather, multi-role aircraft, which only the Chinese J-10 can match. CNAS had noted in an October 2019 report that India had constructed bases in the region with China in mind. “To weather a potential PLA attack, India has placed greater emphasis on infrastructure hardening; base resiliency; redundant command, control, and communications systems; and improved air defence,” the report had said.

The Belfer study at the Harvard school suggested that China was too occupied tackling the perceived threats from the US on its eastern and southern flanks and, therefore, strengthened its bases there. This, the centre says, left the Himalayas neglected and at least four PLA airbases vulnerable. “Indian destruction or temporary incapacitation of some of the four above airbases would further exacerbate these PLAAF operational inflexibilities and weaknesses,” the Harvard school says.

China inexperienced, lost not only to Russia but also to Vietnam

Also in terms of experience, “recent conflicts with Pakistan give the current IAF a level of institutional experience in actual networked combat,” the Harvard school says, adding that the Chinese lack such experience. The PLAAF pilots may find conceiving a dynamic aerial battlefield difficult, according to the Belfer report. “Recent PLAAF exercises with unscripted scenarios have found that pilots are excessively reliant upon ground control for tactical direction,” it says. “This suggests that PLAAF combat proficiency may be significantly weaker than often estimated.”

As for the main force that occupies territories, India is hardened on the ground too, fighting in terrains like that of Kashmir and in skirmishes along its border with Pakistan, CNAS notes. “India is by far the more experienced and battle-hardened party, having fought a series of limited and low-intensity conflicts in its recent past,” the CNAS says. “The PLA, on the other hand, has not experienced the crucible of combat since its conflict with Vietnam in 1979,” it notes.

Even when faced with a less formidable opponent, notes the Harvard school and CNAS, China lost the month-long border war it had initiated in response to the military intervention in Cambodia by Vietnam that had a smaller but more experienced army, seasoned by the fight against the US forces.

Where China scores as much as India, the Harvard school and CNAS say, is in the numbers of ground troops. Belfer reckons there are about 2,25,000 Indian ground forces in the region while the estimate for the Chinese strength ranges from 2,00,000 to 2,30,000. But then, the Harvard school points out, China has to contend with a possible insurrection in Xinjiang or Tibet and also Russia with which it has lost a seven-month-long battle in 1969 — barely two years after being pushed back while trying to intrude into India again through Nathu La and Cho La where they were pushed back by 3 km, losing 350 soldiers.

The Harvard school has observed that the Chinese positions along the Russian border are intact and moving them to the Indian front in the event of large-scale hostilities presents a logistical problem. This is because, if or as they try to do so, Indian airstrikes could target high-speed rail lines on the Tibetan plateau or chokepoints in the mountainous terrain closer to the border. “By contrast, Indian forces are already largely in position,” the report says.

The disadvantage of India here, the CNAS says, is that its forces operate in rough terrain in steep valleys. Indian jawans cannot be easily moved to plug the breaches a Chinese incursion might make. When they try to move, Chinese artillery and missile attacks on the Tibetan plateau on choke points below in the mountains can as effectively stop their advances.

But the Harvard school doubts China has enough missiles to take out all the targets it would need to hit in India in the event of a large-scale conflict. It cites a former IAF officer’s estimates, by which China would need 220 ballistic missiles to knock out one Indian airfield for a day. China has only 1,000 to 1,200 missiles available for the task, which cannot be exhausted in one operation.

PLA supported by better technology, larger budget

If the analysis so far suggests that the conventional wisdom about the outcome of a potential India-China conflict is all wrong, the communist country does have an advantage in technology and new weapons. It has a much larger defence budget than India and it rapidly modernises military. And it has the money to sustain this momentum. “China’s economy is five times the size of India’s and Beijing’s defence spending far outstrips New Delhi’s defence budget by a factor of four to one,” said international adviser at the National Center for Dialogue and Progress in Afghanistan Nishank Motwani, adding, “The power differential between China and India is in Beijing’s favor and this asymmetry is only widening.”

Then, to keep its enemies from adventurism, Chinese state media flexes muscles by publishing articles and broadcasting videos its new weaponry deployed in Tibet for exercises. These weapons include the Type 15 light tank and the new 155-mm vehicle-mounted howitzer, both introduced to the people of China at last year’s National Day military parade in Beijing. “The weapons were specifically designed with advantages for plateau regions and can play important roles in safeguarding border areas,” military experts told the Communist Party of China’s mouthpiece Global Times. “These kinds of drills demonstrated the PLA’s capability to win a regional, high-elevation conflict in its early stages by decisively eradicating the hostile headquarters and commanders, a PLA veteran who was once deployed in Tibet and asked not to be named told the Global Times,” the mouthpiece read.

How India can counter Chinese edge in technology

India’s way to negate this Chinese edge is ever-strengthening defence relations with countries wary of an imperial Beijing’s rise — like the US. Washington called India a “major defence partner” while increasing training facilities for Indian troops that are already world class but for the lack of adequate technological support. In the event of a large-scale Himalayan conflict, US intelligence and surveillance could help India get a clearer picture of the battlefield, says the Harvard school, using an example like what might happen if China were to move troops from its interiors to the front lines in the mountains. “Such a Chinese surge would also attract attention from the United States, which would alert India and enable it to counter-mobilize its own additional forces from its interior,” it says.

India participates in joint military drills with countries like the US, Japan, France and Australia. “Western troops participating in such war games and exercises regularly have expressed a grudging admiration for their Indian counterparts’ tactical creativity and a high degree of adaptability,” the CNAS report says. “China’s joint training endeavours, on the other hand, thus far have remained relatively rudimentary in scope — with the notable exception of its increasingly advanced military exercises with Pakistan and Russia.”

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India

83 Tejas, 110 other new fighter aircraft to replace retiring jets

Given the dwindling fighter jets in the Indian Air Force (IAF), the government is going to buy 200 fighter jets. Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar on Sunday said that the government was taking this step to deal with the problem of ever-decreasing fighter jets in the force. He said that the contract for 83 Tejas fighter jets Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is preparing is in the last round.

The defence secretary said that the government had sought proposals for 110 more jets besides these 83 fighter aircraft. He said a process was underway to procure a total of 200 fighter aircraft in this way.

The defence secretary said, “We will soon finalise the contract for 83 Tejas fighter jets. India will be able to get the urgent fighter aircraft for its air security.”

Asked about the timeframe for Tejas fighter jets to be inducted into the air force, the officer said, “We want to complete this process as soon as possible.” he talked also about outsourcing.

Currently, the IAF fleet has fighter aircraft like Mirage 2000, Sukhoi 30 MKI and MiG-29. There are also Jaguars and Mig 21 Bison, which have become quite old. Thirty-six French-made Rafale will soon join the IAF fleets.

Recently, the MiG-27 fighter jets last flew after serving at the Jodhpur airbase for nearly four decades. These aircraft played an important role during the Kargil War and destroyed the intruder’s dangerous plans by bombing Pakistani targets.

Tejas, the first replenishment for IAF

HAL Tejas is a single-engine, delta wing, multirole light fighter designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the IAF and Indian Navy. It came from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme, which began in the 1980s to replace India’s ageing MiG-21 fighters. In 2003, the LCA was officially named “Tejas”.

Unlike in the case of the American-made Apache helicopters, there is no disagreement between the forces on who gets to fly the Tejas.

Tejas has a tail-less compound delta-wing configuration with a single dorsal fin. This provides better high-alpha performance characteristics than conventional wing designs. Its wing root leading edge has a sweep of 50 degrees, the outer wing leading edge has a sweep of 62.5°. Its trailing edge has a forward sweep of 4°. It integrates technologies such as relaxed static stability, fly-by-wire flight control system, multi-mode radar, integrated digital avionics system and composite material structures. It is the smallest and lightest in its class of contemporary supersonic combat aircraft.

The Tejas is the second supersonic fighter developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) after the HAL HF-24 Marut. As of 2016, the Tejas Mark 1 was in production for the IAF and the naval version was undergoing flight tests for Indian Navy. The projected requirement for the IAF was 200 single-seat fighters and 20 twin-seat trainers, while the IN expected to operate at least 40 single-seat fighters. The first Tejas IAF unit, No. 45 Squadron IAF Flying Daggers was formed on 1 July 2016 with two aircraft. Initially stationed at Bangalore, 45 Squadron was later relocated to its home base at Sulur, Tamil Nadu. The Minister of State for Defence, Subhash Bhamre, reported to parliament that the indigenous content of the Tejas was 59.7% by value and 75.5% by a number of line replaceable units in 2016.

As of 2019, the planned number of Tejas in Indian Air Force inventory is a total 324 aircraft of several variants. The first batch consists of 40 Mark 1 aircraft, 16 IOC standard (already delivered) and 16 FOC standard (delivery to commence by end of 2019), followed by 8 trainers. Next 83 are to be of upgraded Mark 1A standard. By the time these first 123 are delivered, the Tejas Mark 2 is expected to be ready for series production by 2025–26

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India

Kargil 20th anniversary: IAF turns Gwalior air base into war theatre

Gwalior: Commemorating 20 years of the Kargil War, the IAF on Monday turned the Gwalior airbase virtually into a theatre of conflict with a dramatic reenactment of some milestones of the 1999 operation.

In a symbolic recreation of the Tiger Hill attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Drass-Kargil area, the air force used the Mirage 2000 aircraft and explosives were blown up on a ‘model hill’ to recreate the crucial events of the war.

The chief guest for the event is Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa.

The IAF has planned several activities at the air base to commemorate the 20 years of the war and the symbolic recreation of the Tiger Hill attack was one of them.

Five Mirage 2000, two MiG 21s and one Sukoi 30 MKI were on static display at the base.

One of the Mirage 2000 aircraft showcased the Spice bomb carrier. The bomb was used in the Balakot airstrike in February.

The aircraft is undergoing upgrade which will extend its life by another 20 years, said Air Marshal Rajesh Kumar, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Central Air Command (CAC) of the IAF.

Three squadrons of Mirage are based at the Gwalior Air Force Station.

“The Kargil conflict offers an exemplary experience in the use of air power in warfare in high-mountain conditions and is key to a full understanding of India’s emerging posture,” a senior IAF official said.

Several gallantry award winners, both serving and retired, who participated in ‘Operation Vijay’ are attending the event.

The Indian armed forces displayed exceptional valour while successfully dislodging the enemy from the strategic hill in the Drass-Kargil area, an official said.

The Mirage-2000 aircraft played a crucial role in the battles fought during the war and also hit enemy targets bunkered in at the Tiger Hill.

During the war, the IAF had conducted operation Safed Sagar as a part of Operation Vijay of the Army.

A number of events have been planned by the Army in Delhi and in Jammu and Kashmir’s Dras town next month to mark the 20th anniversary of the ‘Kargil Vijay Diwas’, officials had earlier said.

The anniversary celebrations for this year will be spread over three days from 25-27 July.

“However, as part of the build-up to the main event, numerous activities have been planned all over the country from the first week of July,” an official said.

The celebrations in the national capital will begin on 14 July with the illumination of a ‘Victory Flame’ from the National War Memorial in Delhi, which would traverse through 11 towns and cities to finally culminate at Dras where it will be merged with the eternal flame at the ‘Kargil War Memorial’, he said.

The objective of these celebrations is to evoke feeling of patriotism through nationwide campaigns, especially among the youth and to pay homage to the valiant soldiers.

“The Kargil War will always be remembered for its strategic and tactical surprises, the self-imposed national strategy of restraint in keeping the war limited to Kargil-Siachen sectors, and the swiftly executed tri-services military strategy and plans,” the Army had said.

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India

IAF pilot in Pakistan custody; enemy F-16 shot down

New Delhi: An IAF pilot was in Pakistani custody and a Pakistani fighter jet was shot down on Wednesday as fears of war darkened India-Pakistan relations with the Air Force repulsing retaliatory attacks from the western neighbour.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said war was futile, leading to unknown consequences while making an oblique reference to the nuclear weapons that both countries possess while not committing, expectedly, to ending Pakistan’s sponsorship of terrorism and its use as an instrument of state policy.

The Pakistan Army retracted its earlier statement that two Indian Air Force pilots were arrested and in the evening said it had “only one” pilot in its custody.

“There is only one pilot under Pakistan Army’s custody. Wing Comd Abhi Nandan is being treated as per norms of military ethics,” Pakistani military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor said in the evening. IAF sources identified him as Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.

A day after India bombed Jaish-e-Mohammed’s biggest training camp in Pakistan, it was a morning of developments moving with dizzying rapidity.

Islamabad claimed it hit back at India by bringing down two Indian military aircraft, one of which crashed in Pakistan occupied Kashmir while the other fell in Jammu and Kashmir. Officials here said a Pakistani Air Force F-16 fighter jet was shot down by Indian air defence forces in Jammu region’s Rajouri sector.

It turned out later that Pakistan was aiming at the Indian Army brigade headquarters. However, intimidated by the IAF, it beat a hasty retreat, dropping payloads on an empty stretch in the Naushera sector of Jammu and Kashmir.

During the encounter that followed with Indian Mirage 2000s and MiG 21 Bisons, a MiG-21 Bison was lost and the pilot went missing. Before that, however, the IAF was successful in shooting down a Pakistani F-16, the wreckage of which fell in PoK.

As tension mounted, the entire airspace north of New Delhi was briefly “vacated”. Nine airports in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab were closed for civilian traffic for some part of the morning but opened later in the day.

Jammu and Kashmir was the centre of much of the action on a day of escalating tensions between the two neighbours.

An IAF helicopter crashed in Budgam in Kashmir, killing at least five people. One of the deceased persons was identified as Kifayat Hussain Ganaie, a local resident, while the identity of other four — believed to be IAF personnel — is being ascertained, they said.

There was no direct established link with the activity by Pakistani jets, but for many it was just a sign of the disturbed times.

There was also nightlong heavy firing and shelling on forward and civilian areas from across the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch with the Army and the Border Security Force being put on the highest degree of alertness.

All residents of the border areas were asked to remain inside their homes and not venture outside.

While the government and the defence establishment took stock of the situation, building up since the February 14 attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama in which 40 soldiers were killed, attention swivelled on the IAF pilot in enemy territory.

In a terse press statement, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, accompanied by Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor, said details are being ascertained about Pakistan’s claim of having captured one Indian pilot.

It was later confirmed that he was in Pakistani custody.

Officials said Pakistani fighter jets violated Indian air space in Jammu region’s Poonch and Rajouri sectors but were pushed back by Indian aircraft. The jets dropped bombs while returning but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage, they said.

“Pakistan has responded this morning by using its Air Force to target military installations on the Indian side. Due to our high state of readiness and alertness, Pakistan’s attempts were foiled successfully,” Kumar said.

He said the Pakistan Air Force activity was detected and the Indian Air Force responded instantly.

“In that aerial engagement, one Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft was shot down by a MiG 21 Bison of the Indian Air Force. The Pakistani aircraft was seen by ground forces falling from the sky on the Pakistan side.

“In this engagement, we have unfortunately lost one MiG 21. The pilot is missing in action. Pakistan has claimed that he is in their custody. We are ascertaining the facts,” he said.

In Islamabad, the Pakistan Army released a 46-second video showing a blindfolded man claiming he is Abhinandan.

“I am an IAF officer. My service No is 27981,” the man is seen as saying in the video.

The veracity of the video could not be ascertained.

Till late afternoon, India’s political leaders, both in government and in the opposition, were mostly quiet.

In a live television broadcast, Pakistan’s leader Imran Khan also reiterated the military’s claim that two Indian MIGs were shot down, as he offered to defuse tensions and resolve the issues through talks.

He said the Pakistani incursion into the Indian air space was “only intended to convey that if you can come into our country, we can do the same.”

Two Indian MiGs were shot down in the ensuing action, Khan said, one day after Indian government sources said up to 350 JeM terrorists were killed in Tuesday’s attack. There was no official confirmation of the claim.

“I ask India: with the weapons you have and the weapons we have, can we really afford a miscalculation? If this (situation) escalates, it will no longer be in my control or in (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi’s,” Khan said.

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Editorial

Balakot for Pulwama: Modi displays rare Indian govt spine

By allowing the Indian Air Force to hit deep within Pakistani territory to avenge the terror attack in Pulwama on CRPF jawans, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has once again underscored his resolve to fight the enemy with a tit-for-tat policy after the surgical strike following the terror attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri. This operation was more adventurous, as it was not Pakistan-occupied Kashmir where the IAF’s Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft hit; it was Balakot in the Mansehra district of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. Much as the Imran Khan government tried to make light of the airstrike, saying no infrastructure has been damaged by the strikes neither were there casualties, this is a hit on Pakistani pride and also a shame for Pakistan’s military that fails to either take lessons from the series of defeats in the hands of the Indian counterpart since 1947-48 or to improve its preparedness for war. Nothing is more ignominious for a regular force than the fact that 12 jets of 1980s vintage from this side proved more than a match for them in their territory guarded by many squadrons of American fighter planes. Imagine the plight of Pakistan when India presses into action its Sukhoi Su-30MKI and, from the next year onwards, Rafale fighter planes that have awed experts the world over in dogfights.

With the sanction for the strikes on Balakot, Modi has addressed the core constituency of the BJP as well where, betraying juvenile impatience, a section was getting disillusioned by the government. This section of the ruling party’s vote base was reluctant to take into account the fact that a military retaliation never happens right on the day after a terror attack or some other provocative action of aggression by the enemy. Even the most powerful US military did not attack a weak Saddam Hussain regime the day after Iraq annexed Kuwait before the First Gulf War or a weaker Taliban the day after terrorists linked to al Qaidah, Afghanistan’s Taliban and Pakistan executed 9/11. This section of the half-baked right wing of India did not seek comfort even from Modi’s record of permission given to the Army for the surgical strike following Uri. They have been silenced for now. Better still, they are rejoicing — unlike the fringe section of communist-socialist activists that are trying to find ways to prove Tuesday’s air strikes did not happen or suggesting there was a tacit understanding with the Khan administration that Indian would not attack their military installations, thus offering the enemy a face-saver after which Pakistan wouldn’t be under a political compulsion to retaliate.

The opposition leaders today, while congratulating the IAF pilots for the Balakot act, came across as a shade better than their denials post-surgical strikes. Yet, if their tweets are a bid to deprive the Modi government of the credit for allowing the defence forces to decide upon a befitting reply to the Pulwama massacre — the kind of spine the UPA government obviously lacked — they would do well with a bit more of grace, having capitulated in the face of the 26/11 attack. One is apprehensive of their loss of dignified conduct soon, though. Someone with a big foot in the mouth might claim any day Modi did it keeping in mind the Lok Sabha election that is just two months away. While the electoral benefit a government gets for its demonstration of patriotism cannot be denied, this reasoning would be akin to theorising that the prime minister had some election in mind even while allowing the September 2016 military operation in PoK, which would be ridiculous.

Finally, given the severe blow Pakistan has received in Balakot, perhaps losing at least 300 of terrorists affiliated to the Jaish-e-Mohammed led by Maulana Masood Azhar’s brother-in-law Yousuf Azhar, some response from the enemy is inevitable. It had made a half-hearted attempt even today but was thwarted by the intimidating IAF formation. It must be noted here that while India still does not have enough squadrons for a two-front war, China is in no mood to intervene and the existing military might of India is more than a match for Pakistan. The western neighbour has no excuse of terror camps in India, which it can claim to target without escalating the situation. That leaves it with the option of hitting back Indian forces or civilians, either of which is fraught with the risk of inviting a full-fledged war that the nearly impoverished Islamic state can ill-afford. More so because India has successfully brought to its side the support of a majority of nations that matter. India’s economic measures can only worsen for Pakistan hereon. Kneeling down of the terror-sponsoring country is inevitable, just a matter of time.

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India

India destroys Jaish hideout in Pakistan’s Balakot; Yousuf Azhar, Maulana Masood’s kin, ‘killed’

New Delhi: Hundreds of terrorists have been killed in Indian air strikes deep inside Pakistan. Twelve Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft demolished the most widespread terrorist-training camps of Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot early on Tuesday.

Balakot is a town in the Mansehra district of the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan. Thus, India, during this operation, did not merely cross the Line of Control that separates Kashmir from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir; the IAF fighters crossed the international border too. This is the first time Indian fighter jets have entered the Pakistani territory since the 1971 war.

Sirf News has received unconfirmed reports of the death of Maulana Yousuf Azhar, brother-in-law of Masjid Azhar, in the Indian air strike.

Yousuf was involved in the hijacking of Indian Airlines flight IC 814 to Kandahar in December 1999. To secure the release of Indian passengers held hostage in Kandahar, India had to release Masood Azhar.

Foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale on Tuesday said in a press conference that India has demolished the militants’ hideouts as part of a “non-military” action. He said that in this attack, the Indian Air Force (IAF) ensured that no harm was done to ordinary citizens of Pakistan.

Gokhale said that IAF fighter aircraft hit the dense jungles where JeM’s terrorist camps are based.

Another senior government official said 300 terrorists have been killed in this major air strike by India.

Gokhale said that Jaish’s terrorist camp in Balakot is run by Yousuf Azhar, brother-in-law of Masood Azhar.

Full, official statement on the air strike by Union government

Gokhale said, “On 14 February 2019, a suicide terror attack was conducted by a Pak based terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammad, leading to the martyrdom of 40 brave jawans of the CRPF. JeM has been active in Pakistan for the last two decades, and is led by MASOOD AZHAR with its headquarters in Bahawalpur. This organization, which is proscribed by the UN, has been responsible of a series of terrorist attacks including on the Indian Parliament in December 2001 and the Pathankot airbase in January 2016.

Information regarding the location of training camps in Pakistan and PoJK has been provided to Pakistan from time to time. Pakistan, however, denies their existence. The existence of such massive training facilities capable of training hundreds of jihadis could not have functioned without the knowledge of Pakistan authorities.

India has been repeatedly urging Pakistan to take action against the JeM to prevent jihadis from being trained and armed inside Pakistan. Pakistan has taken no concrete actions to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism on its soil.

Credible intelligence was received that JeM was attempting another suicide terror attack in various parts of the country, and the fidayeen jihadis were being trained for this purpose. In the face of imminent danger, a preemptive strike became absolutely necessary.

In an intelligence led operation in the early hours of today, India struck the biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot.

In this operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated.

This facility at Balakot was headed by Maulana Yousuf Azhar (alias Ustad Ghouri), the brother-in-law of MASOOD AZHAR, Chief of JeM. The Government of India is firmly and resolutely committed to taking all necessary measures to fight the menace of terrorism.

Hence this non-military preemptive action was specifically targeted at the JeM camp.
The selection of the target was also conditioned by our desire to avoid civilian casualties. The facility is located in thick forest on a hilltop far away from any civilian presence. As the strike has taken place only a short while ago, we are awaiting further details.

The Government of Pakistan had made a solemn commitment in January 2004 not to allow its soil or territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India.

We expect that Pakistan lives up to its public commitment and takes follow up actions to dismantle all JeM and other camps and hold the terrorists accountable for the actions.”