PKONWEB Report (Islamabad) –India’s claim of eliminating hundreds of militants in Balakot across the Line of Control (LoC) remains a mystery with search still on for the truth while the media hype continues across the border. The so-called strike on February 26 followed Pulwama attack on February 14 which many has been questioning as a false flag weeks before national elections in which PM Modi seeks a second stint.
Talking to PKonweb on condition of anonymity, a senior defense analyst said, “It’s a false flag operation for sure as the cost benefit analysis strongly suggests that any such action is strictly detrimental to Pakistan at this point and time, and we are trying to revive our economy.”
Following the Pulwama attack India launched a botched punitive airstrike inside Pakistan territory and claimed it took out JeM’s camp killing hundreds of terrorists. Official and unofficial numbers of “300+ militants killed at a militants’ camp” in Balakot resonated Indian media.
A top Indian minister said on Saturday the government would not share proof that “a very large number of militants” were killed in air strikes inside Pakistan this week, after doubts were raised there were any casualties in the attack that stoked tensions between the two countries.
The flare up appeared to be easing on Saturday after Pakistan handed back a captured Indian fighter pilot on Friday night, amid efforts by global powers to prevent another war between the two states.
However, shelling across the Line of Control continued, said military officials on both sides.
On Tuesday, Indian warplanes carried out air strikes inside Balakot on what New Delhi alleged were militant camps. Islamabad denied any such camps existed, as did local villagers in the area when Reuters visited.
On Wednesday, Pakistan retaliated with its own aerial mission and downed two IAF fighter aircraft–one of the captured pilots was returned as gesture of goodwill.
Pakistan said the Indian bombs hit a largely empty hillside without hurting anyone. Several Indian opposition leaders have asked the government to share evidence of the strikes.
But India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s top lieutenants, said “no security agencies ever share operational details”.
“It’s a very irresponsible stand,” Jaitley said at a conference organized by the India Today media group.
“The armed forces must have, and our security and intelligence agencies must have, a full leeway in dealing with situations, and if anybody wants operational details to be made public … he certainly does not understand the system.”
Jaitley dismissed suggestions that the rapid escalation in tensions with Pakistan had anything to do with India’s domestic politics ahead of a general election due by May. Some pollsters expect the ruling party to benefit from the nationalistic passion sweeping the country, others say Modi’s BJP party may be losing popularity, and could end up forming coalition at the best.
The captured Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman crossed into India from Pakistan at Wagah on Friday night in a high-profile handover shown on live television.
Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman met Abhinandan at a New Delhi defense hospital on Saturday, where he was seen in his air force jumpsuit. He will undergo medical checks before re-joining active duty, officials said. The pilot debriefed the minister about his detention in Pakistan.
Pakistan presented Abhinandan’s return “as a goodwill gesture aimed at de-escalating rising tensions with India” after weeks of unease that threatened to spiral into war. Global powers, including China and the United States, have urged restraint to prevent another conflict between the neighbors.
However, a Pakistani defense official based in the Middle East told PKoweb on condition of anonymity that they expect the noise to continue till elections are held in India. “We are expecting it, and can defend, as was demonstrated, but India must talk of peace not war.”
(With input from Agencies)