On the third anniversary of the successful Balakot operations carried out by India on 26 February 2019, in response to the terror attack by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammad in Pulwama on 14 February 2019, it is imperative to expose all the lies and fabrications propagated by Pakistan’s deep state about the Balakot operations.
Recently published Manan Bhatt’s monograph, ‘Balakot Air Strike – How India Avenged Pulwama’, offers an in-depth analysis of the Balakot operations and debunks all the lies disseminated by the deep state of Pakistan. It is in this context that the book is a must-read. The author revisits the chain of real-life events surrounding the February 2019 Pulwama suicide bombing attack and India’s strong hit-back in the form of Balakot airstrikes twelve days later.
Delineating a detailed account of the “two epochal events”, the author captures everything “from moments before the ill-fated CRPF bus that was hit by a car carrying explosives at Lethapora in the Pulwama district”, to the IAF cockpits from where “precision bombs were dropped in the vicinity of the town of Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan on the Jaish-e-Mohammed training camps”.
The book begins by showcasing the hardships the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Jawans posted in the Valley and elaborates on how they have to face countless travails every day to fight the monster of terrorism in Kashmir. Mannan humanizes the discourse by highlighting the grisly plight of security forces in Kashmir. He writes that “everyday protests in Kashmir are the most taxing operations for the security forces to control. Sometimes, the protesters hurl stones, and at times, petrol and acid bottles on the security forces, yet the CRPF Jawans fear of inflicting injuring to the innocent civilian population” despite immense provocations by sangbaazs (stone pelters). The book takes the reader through the life and perils of CRPF Jawans in the eyes of a survivor of the Pulwama terror attack, CRPF Head Constable Iqbal Singh and the rest five of the slain Jawans.
Manan writes a meticulously detailed portrayal of the two events in the book. One is the deadliest suicide bombing attack on the convoy of CRPF on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway at Lethpora, Pulwama. The other is the successful Balakot airstrikes carried out by the Indian Air Force (IAF), using Mirage 2000 fighter jets, on 26 February 2019.
On 14 February 2019, a suicide bomber, Adil Ahmad Dar, rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy in Pulwama, killing 40 CRPF Jawans. Moments after the suicide attack, the Pakistan-based militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed responsibility for the attack, which almost brought the two nuclear-armed powers, India and Pakistan, to the brink of war.
To avenge the Pakistan-supported terror group JeM’s suicide attack on the convoy of Indian CRPF Jawans at Pulwama, the IAF fighter jets entered into Pakistani territory on 26 February 2019. They launched a pre-emptive strike on the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror camp at Balakot’s Jabba Top, in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, hitting the targets as planned.
Manan Bhat writes that Balakot airstrikes took the enemy by shock [causing] them grave injuries and [conveyed] the message that India will not keep quiet with the deaths of its soldiers and is capable in retailing with a bigger force. These strikes display India’s strong will to act against terrorism, marking a paradigm shift in India’s defense policy and the strongest ever response by India to Pakistan sponsored terror. For the first time since the India – Pakistan war of 1971, India decided to cross the Line of Control (LoC), launching an offensive deep inside Pakistan with a clear message.
In the face of the Indian airstrikes, Manan writes, Pakistan was in shock, and its political leadership was in disarray. Pakistan could hardly believe what had just happened to them. India had inflicted grave injuries and dented its military prowess. It was capable of retaliating with all the might it could muster. To counter the shock and humiliation, Pakistan’s military launched a perception war that India failed in its attempt because of Pakistan’s preparedness and deterring ability.
When an Indian pilot was brought down, after shooting down a Pakistani F16 in a dog-fight when Pakistan attempted to retaliate Balakot attacks two days later, Pakistan returned him, demonstrating it as an act of benevolence, while the reality was that it had to relent in the face of massive pressure from India in terms of military posturing and diplomatic pressure from the international community. Pakistan also hid the fact that one of its F-16 aircraft was brought down, and its pilot was lynched by the locals thinking he was an Indian!
Moreover, Manan writes that the Pulwama attack exposed the face of a sinister Pakistani strategy of applying terrorism as an instrument of its foreign and security policy in general and vis-à-vis India in particular. While India decided to upscale its response beyond Uri surgical strikes, the international community’s patience was running thin as far as Pakistani sponsorship of terror was concerned not only vis-à-vis India but also against other neighbours such as Afghanistan and even Iran! Pakistan’s cries about Indian aggression fell on deaf ears as India went ahead with its plans to pre-empt terror strikes sponsored by Pakistan in case of Uri surgical strikes and Balakot operations.
Manan’s book, “Balakot Air Strike: How India Avenged Pulwama”, has successfully exposed Pakistan’s hypocrisy and its sinister goals of using the menagerie of non-state actors to bleed India with a thousand cuts. Overall, the book is “a racy thriller” with “adrenalin-pushing action” that would appeal to a reader’s patriotism while filling them with a sense of gratitude and pride towards the Indian armed forces. On the Balakot anniversary, it is imperative to remember that Pakistan remains committed to propagating lies. Therefore, there is a need to retell the facts as has been the attempt in the given book to nail the Pakistani lies on the Balakot operation.