Seeking to establish that the Indian Armed Forces are in alarming shape, a New York Times article mentions that an aerial clash, the first by the South Asian rivals in nearly five decades, “was a rare test for the Indian military” and that it left observers a bit dumbfounded

New Delhi: The New York Times has come under sharp criticism from Indians over a recent article on India's capability of waging war following the aerial clash between India and Pakistan. 

"An Indian Air Force pilot found himself in a dogfight last week with a warplane from the Pakistani Air Force, and ended up a prisoner behind enemy lines for a brief time", the article reads. 

Reacting to the observations, senior Indian journalists have described it as ill-founded.

"In as much as the MiG 21 is an ancient platform, how did you reach the conclusion that the heavily upgraded IAF MiG 21 Bison, used here, was inferior to the F-16 in the within visual range context given the glowing USAF reports of its capability in the past?" Som added.

Noted columnist Sadanand Dhume observed that even if Balakot was a damp squib in military terms (possible though not certain), it could still mark a watershed.

"If India's new policy is to retaliate against terrorist groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammad in mainland Pakistan (not just in Kashmir), then Balakot is unambiguously bad news for Pakistan. It suggests that what was safe yesterday may be unsafe tomorrow. Recognizing this is just common sense", Dhume tweeted.

Another journalist Manu Pubby said he found the article very strange as it did not even mention the (official) Indian claim that a Lockheed Martin F-16 went down in the dogfight.

"Not suggesting it should be validated or taken as gospel but find the missing mention odd," Pubby noted.

One defence columnist observed, "New York Times at it again. We struck targets which eliminated terrorists, a vintage MiG-21 shoots down an F-16 but it thinks we can't fight a war", Yusuf Unjhawala, defence columnist and editor of the Indian Defence Forum, tweeted.

This isn’t just abysmal reporting. It’s also a reminder that the Indian side has failed to get its story across to the international media “After India Loses Dogfight to Pakistan, Questions Arise About Its ‘Vintage’ Military via @NYTimes#airstrikes

Nevertheless, the NYT report did lend some ammunition to Pakistan to launch a tirade of attacks against India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"Modi has destroyed the Indian image, respect and myth of being regional power. World has noticed the Indian humiliation. Morale of IAF and Indian armed forces is at an all-time low. Pakistan and its armed forces have earned global respect", Zaid Hamid, a Soviet-Afghan war veteran and national security analyst said.

In a clash that marked India's retaliation against a 14 February suicide attack on a paramilitary convoy that killed at least 40 soldiers, the Indian Air Force shot down a Pakistan Air Force F-16 using its MiG-21 Bison on 27 February. The Indian Air Force later displayed parts of an AMRAAM medium-range missile that was recovered in the Indian-administered part of Kashmir, alleging that they had been launched by a US-made jet.