New Delhi: Former Indian Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane (Retd) has said that the air strike by Indian Air Force targeting Jaish-e-Mohammed’s (JeM) advance training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot in 2019 was a clear message that if anyone tries to harm India, then they will suffer more.

When asked about the situation when you are dealing with a country which is a rogue nation and has nuclear weapons, General Naravane said in ‘Podcast with Smita Prakash’, “We hit them and they did come back the next day. We lost one aircraft and Commander Abhinandan was also caught down. It’s not that our action did not provoke a reaction”.

“But once again we have to see the larger picture and the larger picture is that we have demonstrated our will to strike. Again whether we struck any number of casualties, the number of terrorists who were killed is not important. The fact is that we have said that if you do something to us we will do something to you and that will be proportionate even more than what you have done to us. That is the message that is gone across and which is the important message. The larger picture and the message that has gone is that don’t try the stunts you will suffer more than we do,” he said.

Responding to another question that at the time of the Balakot attack, people’s narrative was that we have lost to Pakistan and people were criticizing the Army so ignoring doesn’t work all the time, the former Army Chief said, “On the larger scale it is important to win the information war and that has become very important in the time of interconnectivity and social media.”

“It is not enough to win the war on the ground, we have to win a perception war also and for that whole new ball game has to be done at a much higher and at the national level. It is not something that can be done at a ground level that a battalion commander is saying something. It will have to be peace together and that narrative built will show that we actually won the war at the ground. Both these things have become very important,” he added.

The Balakot air strikes were conducted by the Air Force in response to the Pulwama terrorist attack on a CRPF convoy in which 44 personnel lost their lives.

On February 26, IAF fighter jets targeted JeM’s advance training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot. Islamabad retaliated by attempting to target Indian military installations the next day. However, the IAF thwarted its attempts.

India, after the aerial strikes, had said that it killed a large number of terrorists. However, Pakistan said India’s claim was “reckless” while stating that it will respond “at the time and place of its choosing.”