There was no Pakistani aircraft within 150 kms of our strike package, says former IAF Chief on Balakot airstrike
India's surgical strikes and Balakot bombings sent a strong message to Pakistan that terror infrastructure across the border cannot be used as safe haven to wage a low-cost war against India, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Friday.
In an address at a seminar, he said India's adversary on the Western border will have to think 100 times before considering about any future "misadventure".
The "out-of-the-box" response in the form of Balakot airstrikes following the Pulwama terror attack last year forced rewriting of many doctrines by the adversary across the LoC, Singh said without naming Pakistan.
A fleet of Indian Air Force aircraft bombed a terrorist training camp in Balakot inside Pakistan on February 26 last year to avenge the killing of 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in the Pulwama terror attack on February 14.
On September 29, 2016, the Army carried out surgical strikes on a number of terror launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir in retaliation to an attack on its base in Uri that month.
"Our approach to terrorism was and will remain a judicious combination of clinical military action and mature and responsible diplomatic outreach," Singh said, assuring the nation that the government will respond appropriately to any threat to India's national security.
He said the government has initiated major structural changes to tackle any future threats and it will take some time for the entire set up to be fully operational.
The defence minister said India's response following Pulwama attack displayed the country's defence capability and affirmed its right to defend itself against terrorism.
Singh described Balakot airstrikes as a singular event of military precision and impact, saying that it taught the leadership to think "strategic rather than tactical".
At the seminar titled 'Air Power in No War, No Peace Scenario', Singh paid tributes to 40 CRPF personnel killed in the Pulwama attack and saluted the soldiers who carried out the Balakot operation.
"If we've to be prepared for the tasks assigned to us, then it's important we maintain credible deterrence at land, air and sea at all times," he said.
Singh called "hybrid warfare" a reality, saying that a mix of kinetic and non-kinetic tools is a genuine threat. He emphasised the need to reorient the training of soldiers to meet the challenges posed by hybrid warfare.
Referring to various aspects of hybrid warfare such as expansion of battle space and use of technology infusion, he said, "In such a scenario, artificial intelligence, high-speed weapons and space-based sensors and tools will have a significant impact."
Singh said the world stands shoulder-to-shoulder with India in fighting the terrorism, a referred to sending of a strong message to Pakistan by global anti-terror watchdog FATF (Financial Action Task Force) in its Paris meeting recently.
"We have recently seen the impact of collective diplomatic and financial pressure on Pakistan. Terrorists like Hafiz Saeed who were treated like VIPs and heroes, have been put behind bars," Singh said.
"We realise that this is not enough and unless Pakistan is made accountable, it will continue with its previous policy of duplicity and deceit. All attempts are being made to work in this direction," he said.
"The Balakot air strikes conveyed India's clear message that infrastructure across the border won't be a safe haven for terrorists," the defence minister said.
Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat and Chief of Indian Air Force Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria also spoke at the event.
Rawat said the clear message from the Balakot strikes was that the kind of "proxy war" perpetrated on India "will not be tolerated". IAF Chief R K S Bhadauria highlighted the need for new indigenous technology in warfare and urged DRDO to develop such weapons.
Addressing the gathering, Rawat highlighted the significance of "credible deterrence" in warfare.
"If we've to be prepared for the tasks assigned to us then it's important we maintain credible deterrence at land, air and sea at all times.
"Deterrence comes from keeping every personnel trained and motivated. he credible deterrence comes from the will of the military leadership and intent of political leadership while taking the tough decision. This was amply shown after Kargil, Uri attacks and Pulwama attack," he said.
"We had an edge over Pakistan Air Force in terms of Beyond Visual Range Missile capability at the time of Kargil. We allowed that to slip and thereafter it took a decade and half in our struggle to acquisition process to be able to get better capability," the Air Force chief said in his speech.
This would soon materialise with the induction of the Rafale jets, he said.
"In air engagement, especially in a deeply contested area, it is important to to have a weapons edge. Once we retain this edge,it is important that we don't allow to slip back this edge," he added.
Hailing the government's decision to carry out the Balakot strikes, Bhadauria said it was a "tough and bold decision to strike at the heart of terrorist training camps deep inside Pakistan across the Line of Control".
"IAF successfully struck the target chosen. Pakistan Air Force responded 30 hours later with a large package of aircraft under Operation Swift Retort. IAF ensured they weren't able to hit targets. They were in a hurry to disengage.They were doing it for their domestic audience," he said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)