“We need to back-up our ability to do battle damage assessment” – a critical statement from Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria on the first anniversary of the Indian Air Force’s attack on the Balakot terror camp in Pakistan where the government has not been in a position to release images or video of the impact of the hit.

While the Air Force did strike the buildings it targeted using a penetrator version of the Israeli Spice 2000 satellite-guided bomb, the release of images or video “becomes even more important because of the information war that starts after that.” According to Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria, “that is one takeaway from this (the Balakot mission) for sure.” Continue reading


It may mean monkey in Hindi and port in Persian, but ”Bandar” for now retired Air Force commander Hari Kumar was the code word for success that fateful morning one year ago when Indian jets crossed over to Pakistan to pound a terror camp in Balakot. And ”Bandar” it was at 3.55 am on February 26, 2019, when Kumar called then Chief of Air Staff B S Dhanoa to confirm that the top-secret Balakot air operation was a major success.

It was also his birthday, Air Marshal (retired) Kumar recalled on the first anniversary of the Balakot strike, which took place 12 days after the February 14 terror attack in Pulwama in which 40 CRPF personnel was killed. Continue reading


Pakistan had prior intelligence that India planned some form of belligerence following the Pulwama attack, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Wednesday as he lauded the military for “acting with restraint” after IAF jets bombed a major terror training camp in Balakot. The Indian Air Force jets bombed a Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp in Balakot on February 26 last year to avenge the killing of 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel in the Pulwama terror attack on February 14. Pakistan retaliated on February 27 by attempting to target Indian military installations.

Addressing a special ceremony to commemorate the first anniversary of the ‘Operation Swift Resort’, Khan said Pakistan gracefully handled the last year’s crisis with India, showing maturity of the nation. “We did not panic after they attacked Balakot. We waited to see the extent of the damage and if there was any human losses. Then we gave a measured response,” he said. Continue reading


US President Donald Trump’s visit to India has underlined two important things. First is the existence of a multi-faceted deep partnership between the two countries. Second, this partnership is yet to achieve its potential.

For a US president who views international relations as primarily transactional, the speech at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad was uncharacteristic of Trump. He emphasised the strategic relationship that Indian and American leaders have sought for years. At a time when the United States’ relations with many of its allies seem troubled, Washington, even under the Trump administration, continues to signal that New Delhi remains its strategic partner of choice in Asia. Continue reading


Jammu and Kashmir “was, is and shall forever” remain an integral part of India, a top Indian diplomat asserted at the UN Human Rights Council’s meeting here on Wednesday, a day after Pakistan sought the international community’s intervention on the Kashmir issue. Speaking at the 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council which is being held here in Switzerland from February 24 to March 20, Vikas Swarup, Secretary (West), the Ministry of External Affairs, described Pakistan as the “epicentre of global terrorism”.

He called for decisive action against those who direct, control, fund and shelter terrorists, in an obvious reference to Pakistan, which is accused by its neighbours of providing safe havens to terror groups. Continue reading


Pakistan, the “epicentre of global terrorism”, shouldn’t lecture others on human rights issues in Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral part of India, a senior Indian diplomat told the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday. Secretary (West) Vikas Swarup was responding to Pakistan human rights minister Shireen Mazari’s allegations on Tuesday about rights abuses in Kashmir during a session of the UN body in Geneva.

Delivering India’s national statement at the meeting, Swarup also called for “decisive action against those who direct, control, fund, abet or shelter terrorists”. Though the Indian statement didn’t name Pakistan in this regard, it was clear which country it was referring to. Continue reading


United States (US) President Donald Trump’s state visit saw a renewal of vows on tackling terrorism with the joint statement listing a slew of Pakistan-sponsored terrorist groups and calling on Pakistan to “ensure that no territory under its control is used to launch terrorist attacks.” Mr Trump agreed it was in the interests of both governments that any peace process in Afghanistan would preserve the “gains of the last 18 years”.

While he remains determined to end the US military presence in Afghanistan, it is hoped Prime Minister Narendra Modi reminded him of the consequences of such an action. Mr Trump likes to play up his role in the destruction of the Islamic State. Hopefully, this has now become twinned in his mind with India’s struggle against Pakistan. Continue reading


Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday held the RSS and the BJP responsible for the killing of over 20 people in a communal riot in Delhi. Accusing the BJP government of targeting 200 million Muslims in India, Khan appealed to the international community to come to the rescue of Indian Muslims.

In a series of tweets, Khan said, “Today in India we are seeing the Nazi-inspired RSS ideology take over a nuclear-armed state of over a billion people. Whenever a racist ideology based on hatred takes over, it leads to bloodshed.”He recalled that in his address to the United Nations General Assembly last year, he had “predicted” targeting of Muslims in India following the reorganization of Jammu & Kashmir state and nullification of its special status by the BJP government. Continue reading


An Indian Air Force aircraft carrying 15 tonnes of medical supplies for coronavirus-affected people in China landed in the Chinese city of Wuhan on Tuesday. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar described the consignment of relief material as a strong expression of India’s solidarity with the Chinese people in their “difficult time”.

“Consignment (15 tonnes) of Indian medical relief for #COVID19 lands in Wuhan. Strong expression of our solidarity with the Chinese people at this difficult time. Thank you @IAF_MCC and @EOIBeijing for your efforts,” he tweeted. China has been reeling under coronavirus outbreak with the death toll due to it climbing to 2,715 while the number of confirmed cases rose to 78,064. Continue reading


US President Donald Trump on Wednesday said “India was great” and his whirlwind trip to the country was “very successful”. Trump was on his maiden official visit to India from February 24 to 25. He was accompanied by First Lady Melania and a high-powered delegation comprising senior US administration officials, including National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.

They visited Ahmedabad, Agra and New Delhi before leaving for Washington on Tuesday.”Just landed. India was great, trip very successful,” Trump tweeted soon after he landed in the US after his 36-hour-long India visit. As Trump left for the US, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday night thanked the American President for coming to India and said the visit has been a “path-breaking one”. Continue reading


General MM Naravane, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) on Wednesday (February 26, 2020) visited Kashmir for two days to review the prevailing security situation in the Union Terrority. The COAS was accompanied by the Northern Army Commander, Lt Gen YK Joshi and Chinar Corps Commander, Lt Gen KJS Dhillon during his visit.

The COAS visited the formations and units deployed along the Line of Control and reviewed the situation. He was also briefed by the local Commanders on the situation on the Line of Control, ceasefire violations, our retaliations, counter-infiltration operations and operational preparedness being maintained. Continue reading


At about 0115 hours on February 26, 2019, 20 fully armed Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft took off, one by one in quick succession, from the runway and taxiway of the Air Force Station at Gwalior. They flew towards Bareilly and tanked up mid-air, then headed towards Jammu and Kashmir. At about 0345 hours, the fighters, which were flying in the cover of mountains to escape a Pakistani SAAB Airborne Warning and Control aircraft, crossed the LoC at 30,000 feet.

While 16 aircraft crossed into PoK — including four for escort duties — four others stayed behind as back-up. Five Israeli-made Spice 2000 bombs were released about 15 km into PoK, which struck the Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Balakot, and the fighters made their way back to an airfield in the Western Sector. Continue reading


On the first anniversary of the Balakot air strike on camps of terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), former chief of the Indian Air Force Air Marshal BS Dhanoa on Wednesday described it as a “paradigm shift” in Indian military operations. “Basically, it’s a paradigm shift in the way we conduct our operations. The other side never believed that we could carry out a strike inside Pakistan to take out a terror training camp that we successfully carried out,” he told ANI.

“One year has gone past and we look back with satisfaction. We have learnt a lot of lessons, a lot of things have been implemented after Balakot operations.” Continue reading


All future operations on the lines of last year’s Balakot air strikes will have a video feed of the attack for military personnel to get real-time information, which will also help with subsequent analysis of the hit, ThePrint has learnt.

According to sources in the defence establishment, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has rewritten firing protocols for the air-to-surface Israeli missile, Crystal Maze, as it was felt that the missile could have been fired along with the Spice 2000 during the Balakot strike but the rules at the time didn’t allow for it. Continue reading


Breaking a self-imposed red-line exactly a year ago, India with its Mirage-2000 fighters conducted pre-dawn air strikes to bomb a major Jaish-e-Mohammed facility at Balakot on February 26, 12 days after the Pulwama terror attack claimed 40 CRPF troopers. IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria tells Rajat Pandit that the strikes delivered an unequivocal stern message to Pakistan. Excerpts:

Q: What did India achieve through the Balakot air strikes, given that the JeM facility is back in action and Pakistan has not stopped aiding cross-border terror? Continue reading