The MEA in its press briefing confirmed that India indeed crossed the International Border into Pakistani territory to conduct air strikes against terror camps. There was a concerted attempt by the Pakistani establishment to peddle the narrative that the Indian Air Force did not enter Pakistani territory which now stands dispelled.
As we have reported earlier, the air strikes were conducted at Balakot which is located in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Balakot is 50 km from the Line of Control. More worryingly for Pakistan, Balakot is less than 200 km via road from Islamabad and less than 70 km from Abbottabad.
Abbottabad, as readers may be aware, is the same place where Osama bin Laden was found to be hiding by the United States of America. It was at his residence there, near to a Pakistani military base, that Bin Laden met his end. That India was able to reach so close to such a significant base within Pakistani territory ought to concern the Pakistani establishment.
As we have said before, for Pakistan, there are two possible scenarios. Either it was not aware that Indian aircraft had penetrated their defences into their territory or they were aware but could not do much about it. From the Pakistani perspective, it is difficult to say which is worse.
The bigger concern for Pakistan will be the fact that India’s Mirage 2000 aircraft are nuclear capable. That an Indian nuclear-capable aircraft was able to penetrate into Pakistani territory without any bother and was able to return without any consequences will give the Pakistani establishment nightmares for days to come.
Remember, the Mirage 2000 jets are also rigged for nuclear strikes. Imagine what the Pakistani air force would have gone through realizing they have broken through.
— Manu Pubby (@manupubby) February 26, 2019
The Pakistani people have turned against their government and Army as well. Therefore, there is considerable pressure within their establishment to retaliate. In such circumstances, it’s unclear the extent to which Pakistan will risk retaliation.