India’s strike on Balakot terror camp came as a jolt to the deep state. Pakistan, the state sponsor of terrorism, could not take the attack.

The February 14, 2019 Pulwama terror attack was one of the deadliest terror strikes in Jammu and Kashmir in which 40 CRPF personnel lost their lives. Jaish-e-Mohammad, a Pakistan-based terror group, claimed responsibility for the attack.

In response to the dastardly terror strike, India launched a “non-military pre-emptive strike” against the JeM in mainland Pakistan on February 26, 2019. India had “credible intelligence” that the terrorist group was preparing more Fidayeen for terrorist attacks in India. The target for the air-strikes was the Infamous JeM Seminary, named after a radical scholar Syed Ahmad Shaheed. It was the largest JeM training Institute, related to a two hundred-year-old Jihadist institutional cult, having a symbolic and sentimental value for the ultra-Wahabi terror Tanzims JeM and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

The Strikes & Swathe of Destruction At The Markaz Syed Ahmed Shaheed Terror Training Camp

Indian Air Force jets dropped all-weather 1,000 kg Spice 2000 glide bombs on Balakot Terror training camp. The IAF Strikes wreaked mayhem in four target buildings on the Jabba ridge. India’s kill list included top shots from ISI, IED specialists, hoards of suicide bombers, prominent terrorist trainers, software experts and a host of other JeM cadres. The strikes rattled JeM’s self-styled emir and Khalifa - Masood Azhar and the ISI. India had destroyed their hundreds of strategic assets, which were cultivated after months of indoctrination and training. The worst part was the elimination of the invaluable top leadership and the trainers. India’s strike on Balakot terror camp came as a jolt to the deep state. Pakistan, the state sponsor of terrorism, could not take the attack on their most valuable strategic assets. While acting as force multiplayer of terrorism, Pakistan military ensured safe havens for terror Tanzims. They dreaded the consequences if the Frankenstein created and nurtured by them to turn up against them.

Pakistan Military’s Reaction

The strikes shook up the entire Pakistan Military. They held an urgent meeting between the Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan and the head of the ISI LT Gen Asim Munir. The angered Army chief had said, “Dobara hamari nak Kat kar le gaye.” (For the second time, India has made us to eat the humble pie.) He ordered the PAF chief to carryout retaliatory action by the next day.

Bajwa Said, “Gen Munir (ISI Chief), I want clearance of the debris from the seminary. I am giving your fifteen days. The markaz must look a madrasa only. Indians will soon share the videos of the strikes. Their actions will dent Pakistan’s image internationally. India wants us to be designated as the state sponsor of terror.”

“General Ghafoor, unlike 2016, this time, I want you to lead the way and take attack to the enemy. You know what to do. Tell the world that they couldn’t strike us. Show them that Markaz Syed Ahmed Shaheed is just a madrasa,” Bajwa added.

Eyewitness Accounts From Bisian Village of A Massive Cover-Up Operation by the Pak Military

Despite of the cessation of mobile network and media blackout; eyewitness account from people working in nearby hotels and villagers from Bisian village threadbare the entire chain of events. The strikes shook the whole Balakot Tehsil of Mansehra district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Villagers from Bisian and other eyewitnesses vividly remembered the effects of Airstrikes as equal to that of 5 Richter scale earthquakes as the earth shook each time a missile hit its target.

GHQ rushed Pakistan Army to the scene of attack and dispatched Columns from a nearby military unit for relief and rescue operations of JeM leadership and the cadre. Their priority remained the multi-story residential bungalow of Yusuf Azhar. But, by the time they reached, there was nothing left of him. The IAF strikes had eliminated Markaz Taleem-ul-Quran’s training Head without a trace. As PAK Army reached the dormitories housing the terrorists, it was daylight and the scenes in front of them were gruesome. The floors of buildings housing the terrorists had collapsed from within. Army covered up the evidence of spice bombs entry in the large dormitory building by replacing the ruptured corrugated sheets with new ones. Disfigured bloodied corpses of those who got stuck below the debris looked as if army men extracted them from their graves. In the night's dead, terror had arrived from thin air to strike those who sought to reign terror on innocent Indians. They shifted the scant few surviving terrorists to a nearby military hospital in an army ambulance. Next task was to remove the corpses stuck in the debris. Bodies kept on coming as they loaded them in private tempos, trailers, and military trucks and took them for burial.

Initially, they took care while picking up and loading the burnt bodies into trucks. But as the death toll mounted, they snatched two-three bodies at a time and hurling over one another inside the vehicles. It looked despicable as hands and feet of dead terrorists looked like sagged pendulums, necks drooped from shoulders. A few of the bodies were without heads as white bones protruded out of the neck cavity. Most of them looked burned and smashed. The soldiers had brought large black coloured polythene bags and were collecting bloodstained chopped body parts, spread over.

More than the corpses, removal of debris from the forested and mountainous region remained an enormous task. The ISI masterminded the cover-up as the PAK army used camouflage netting to prevent satellites from taking revealing images of the attacked buildings. Under the huge camouflage netting, private loaders with JCB machines and trailers worked overnight for two weeks. They cleaned-up the outlying region by removing the debris from the site and levelling up the terrain, as-if nothing had ever happened.

The PAK Army then carried out blasts using landmines in nearby forests to fake the damage from the strikes. PAK army searched for the remnants of the Indian Spice 2K glide bombs from the debris and placed in that forest. They, however, forgot to remove the stuck-up residues of sand, something which was not found anywhere near the uprooted trees. ISPR foolishly claimed of Indian air strikes in a densely forested zone with no sand nearby. While, the photographs shared by Pakistan Army’s propaganda wing showed the fakery of their establishment.

India’s top satellite intelligence professional Col Vinayak Bhat accessed satellite images of the Balakot Jabba top JeM terrorist training camp on March 04, 2019. He had reported disappearance of two large tented accommodation blocks of 17m x 6m in size that were seen in a pre-strike image. IAF bombing must have destroyed the tents. The high definition satellite images accessed by Col Bhat showed four black spots on the CGI or corrugated iron sheet roofs of Jaish facilities. This had shown the possibility that IAF smart munitions might have pierced the roofs, which were later patched up with fresh sheets and painted. He doesn’t report extensive damage to the buildings and walls from the air strikes.

Even the high resolution before and after blast images released by international media houses had shown significant changes in the structures. The images had revealed damage on the ground and four bomb entry points on the roof.

Col Bhat termed the craters shared by Pakistan’s ISPR as “more in conformity with shallow digging and burning, possibly by Pakistani armed forces in a hurry. The ground pictures were vague with broken tree stubs but without the top portions anywhere in the vicinity.”

Besides all this, the IAF had publicly stated that they have got synthetic image radar (SAR) imagery of the post-air strike battle damage analysis. The SAR imager confirmed their claim that targets were accurately hit.

Discontent In Families of Terror Recruits

Amongst the killed terrorist were Bilal, Parvaiz, Zubair, Rizwan Ghufran, Khalid, Mudassar, Mohmmad Fazal, Shah Iqbal, Inayatullah, ten terror recruits in their early twenties. They belonged to Dabbora village in Faisalabad, Punjab, Pakistan. Some of them were illiterate, while some studied only up to matriculation. They merely went for terror training at Madrassa Syed Ahmed Shaheed in Balakot and within a few days were to leave for Jihad in Kashmir. There was tremendous angst in the villagers of Daboora Village as they had lost ten of their young boys in India’s Airstrikes. Massive Protests erupted in Daboora and nearby villages opposing the aggressive recruitment of their village boys by the terror tanzims.

A few days later, Masood’s younger brother Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar Alvi, a senior member of Jaish’s Majlis ash-Shura or the ‘Shura Council’ along with a mystery woman addressed as ‘Apa’ and a dozen armed men from JeM set out to calm the protesters and meet with the families of the dead terror trainees.

The emir’s caravan entered the dusty village and went to visit the martyr’s families. Mufti Rauf and his accomplice talked with the male members of the families. They offered them money as compensation.

Pakistan And The Game of Narratives

Indian pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s audacity in downing a much advanced fighter jet F16 with his MiG 21 bison was the talking point of the air operations on Feb 27, 2019. Abhinandan’s steadfast bravery while facing the angered locals three days of torture as POW in enemy custody, after his ejection behind enemy lines would remain a folklore for generations to come. Pakistan’s foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had accepted that if they don’t release Wing Commander Abhinandan, India, to attack Pakistan by 9 pm that night. It was said that Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa's ' legs were shaking' and he was 'sweating'.

Pakistan lives in a cocoon of made up of ‘quintessential denial state. To prove their fakery right, they build up irrational, illogical and lofty narratives. They claim, “1965 and ’71 wars as their victory. They deny presence of terrorists in their country. For them, neither Balakot happened nor did Abhinandan down their F16. Pakistan will never recognize the sacrifice of the poor ‘doosra banda’ PAF Pilot Wing Commander Shahzaz Ud Din. It took them - 11 years to accept the role of their own regiment - Northern Light Infantry in Kargil war, as they maintained Mujahidin were behind Kargil incursions. Seeing that the sacrifices of Pakistan Army’s 453 Officers and Soldiers during Kargil war remained in oblivion for more than a decade, Shahzaz was just another pilot!

Their February 27, 2019 OP was meant to please their domestic audience and to achieve de-escalation from the heated scenario against India. Pakistan denied any casualty in India’s Balakot Airstrikes, other than a few crows and trees. A self-proclaimed satellite imagery expert from Australia joined the terror state’s bandwagon, claiming that the strikes never happened! Later on, international media houses joined the bandwagon. The camouflage of destroyed buildings was a masterstroke of the ISI.

The massive cover-up towards — disposal the bodies and the evidence, rectifying the massive internal damage in the targeted building, silencing the locals took 43 days. Pakistan’s biggest deceit remained the photo-op at the seminary after 43 days of Airstrikes, wherein the ISPR’s propaganda division took western journalists to a guided tour to the infamous seminary and had on display children studying holy Quran there. It took the media team an hour of drive on vehicles and from the road, 90 minutes’ uphill walk to reach the camp which was isolated and faraway from human habitation! Which parents send their children to a madrasa in a desolate jungle? Journalists found multiple boards mentioning Masood Azhar on the madrasa board, but, Pakistan Army had no clue of it! The lying lama a.k.a. ISPR, with his deception and subterfuge, still could not cover the cruel truth of the strikes. The world recognizes Markaz Syed Ahmed Shah, Mansehra, Balakot as a known terror training camp which finds mention in many international publications. Misrepresenting the left-over buildings of the entire notorious Markaz and terming them as madrasa for innocent children cannot whitewash the fate of doomed terrorists exterminated in the wee hours of 26 February 2019.

The ‘secret’ Mansehra–Balakot terror training camp, that housed hundreds of recruits, appeared in many dossiers and reports from US, UK, Afghanistan and India. This camp is located just 35 km drive from where Bin Laden was killed. Pakistan kept on terming the terror training camps as madrasas. In reality, whenever there were any terror attacks in mainland Pakistan, they rushed to Balakot to find links and sealed the so-called madrasas. They remained a safe heaven for the tanzims under the care of Pakistan Army who placed check-posts around the terrain and the adjoining road to safeguard the JeM camp.

July 7 London bombing suspects , Shehzad Tanweer , Pathankot airbase attackers , Mohammad Sidiq Gujjar , Adnan Rasheed , a former Pakistan Air Force officer, who attempted to assassin Pakistan’s then-president General Musharraf in 2003, Muhammad Naveed a captured Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist and 26/11 attacker Ajmal Kasab were some of the notorious terrorists, trained at Mansehra, Balakot Terror training establishments.

The Jaish’s Balakot-Mansehra camp established a linkage between Jaish and Al Qaeda. Then, between the operators of jihad within the deep state and Al Qaeda under Osama Bin Laden, who funded the infamous Balakot seminary. The same inciters have trained at different camps under different aliases.

Three Years After Balakot

The Balakot air strikes displayed the Indian Air Force’s ability to hit deep inside the enemy territory. Pakistan has evolved a new method; using drones to sneak in weapons and drugs inside India. Their new military doctrine is single-minded in its purpose, to disturb Jammu & Kashmir. India has increased digital surveillance along the borders. There is a sudden increase in use of tunnels for infiltration. But, the security agencies are up for any challenge. The year 2021 saw armed drone as a weapon in the hands of the terrorists as they targeted a forward airbase.

Following the surgical strikes, the Aug 05, 2020, removal of the Article 370 established a new asymmetry in the valley as a narrative built by Pakistan crumbled. Non-state actors LeT and JeM in tune with the de facto rulers - military have continued to call the shots in Pakistan. Terror attacks have not ceased, deterring India’s elected government to engage in talks with the neighbouring country.

Cross Border Infiltration From Pakistan

Since 2019, a steady decline in the number of active terrorists in the valley from 421 in 2019 to 300 in 2020 and to 270 in 2021. According to reports, there were around 33 infiltration attempts in 2021, as against 50 in 2020 and 130 in 2019. India has technologically strengthened its anti-infiltration grid along the LOC and Pakistan border.

Strategic Effect of Balakot Strikes

Balakot airstrike was a significant change in IAF operations and, riding on top of the spice 2000 bombs, it sent across a message: “We will come after you, no matter where you are."

Post Balakot, India’s military posture was very offensive as they were ready to wipe out Pakistan's forward brigades had the PAF’s op swift retort done any damage. India had thrown their ‘strategic restraint’ policy out of the stadia for a six. Pakistan’s faked ignorance of Balakot air strikes meant India had set a new normal paragraphed on a hard rock. The twin cross-border strikes — Uri in 2016 and Balakot in 2019 — had withered away the myth of impregnability of their Full Spectrum Deterrence and the repeated and open threats of starting a nuclear war, thus called Pakistan's nuclear bluff,

Air Strikes have played the role of deterrent as desired. Pakistan DGMO’s agreeing for ceasefire along the LOC from February 25, 2021 came as a surprise humanitarian relief to the border residents. Even soldiers of both opposing armies deployed along the LoC welcomed it. The reduction in terror incidents come in the backdrop of Chinese meddling in Pakistan politics as they saw Indian Air Strikes as detrimental to their economic interests in Pakistan and the CPEC.

Lack of strategic depth and vulnerability of their military HQs sent chills down the spines of Pakistani Generals. Post three years of the air strikes, India has seen no major Pakistan-sponsored terrorist on its soil. The strategic belligerence of Balakot resulted in the benign removal of articles 370, 35A and the constitutional reorganization of Jammu and Kashmir.

Can India Do That Again?

The 2016 surgical strikes and the 2019 Balakot air strikes have made India’s intent against cross border terrorism clear. The strikes were a strong a message to the perpetuators of terror. If they continue to launch terror attacks on innocent Indians for furthering their political motives. India no longer possesses the strategic restraint and patience of the older times. Balakot was just the beginning. India has just ascended to position itself against terror by taking the attack to the adversary. With the induction of the entire batch of 36 Rafales and indigenous autonomous technology, armed forces will look forward to having another go at the enemies of humanity. Next anti-terror strike across the border will use a swarm of autonomous drones or an armed drone as safe and effective choice.