What it was?
On February 14, 2019, a suicide bomber named Adil Ahmed Dar carrying around 60 kg of explosive in a car slammed into a CRPF bus that killed 40 jawans and left some injured in Pulwama around 20 km away from Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir. The Jaish-e-Mohammad, a proscribed organisation under the United Nations, claimed responsibility for the attack. The JeM had also claimed responsibility of 2016 Pathankot terror attack that killed seven security personnel and had also suspected to be involved in the 2016 militant attack on Indian Brigade headquarters in Uri.
The horrifying terror attack left the country with outrage to hit back on perpetrators. To take action against terrorist, the Indian Air Force conducted "non-military pre-emptive" air strike using French multirole Mirage 2000 jet fighters in Balakot (Pakistan) crossing Line of Control to quash the assumed place used for terrorist recruitments and training by Jaish-e-Muhammad. This air strike has broken two long-standing myths. First, India will never cross the Line of Control and Second, Pakistan will use its nuclear arsenal if India does so.
The Pakistan official recognized the air strike but denied any casualties and said it will respond "at the time and place of its choosing". Pakistan reportedly sent F16 fighter jets to respond air strike. However, one of them was shot down by IAF MiG 21 bison aircraft. Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was the pilot of the plane that downed F-16. In the operation, Abhinandan landed, after ejecting from the plane, in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and went under Pakistan Military control. Nonetheless, Pakistan returned the wing commander safely citing the friendly gesture and urging for de-escalation but Indian side termed the return as an obligation under 1949 Geneva Convention.
A helping gesture of International community:
The Pulwama terror attack has attracted condemnation from all over the world. The US, UK, Russia and France asserted that they stand with India in combating the menace of terrorism. The neighboring countries Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Maldives expressing solidarity have vowed to combat terrorism jointly. Israel has offered unconditional assistance to India for self-defence especially in combating terrorism.
China has also condemned the attack and expressed "deep sympathies" to the families of 40 jawans. Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi messaged to Ms Swaraj saying "Countries in the region should enhance cooperation, jointly address the threat of terrorism and maintain regional peace and security,". The statement did not make any reference to Pakistan even though Pakistan based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed responsibility of the attack. China has long blocked the proposal of India to ban Masood Azhar, chief of Jaish-e-Mohammad, on UNSC 1267 ISIL (Da'esh) al-Qaeda sanctions committee.
Future policy of India against terrorism and Pakistan:
India has experienced several deadly terrorist attacks by outfits operating in Pakistan and the country, each time, assured India that it will take necessary measures to curb terrorist activities on their soil. The Pulwama terror attack, however, has led India to rethink its options to fight terrorism originating in Pakistan. India need to form policy with a blending of the following measures: one, Isolate Pakistan, India has already decided to remove "Most Favoured Nation" privileges given to Pakistan and work to ensure the country's isolation globally. Second, cooperate with countries such as Iran and Afghanistan that are also victims of Pakistani terrorism to combat the menace of Pakistani terrorism jointly. Third, persuade the US to take stringent action against Pakistan since the country used "F16 jets" to attack India in retaliation. The F16 jets were acquired by the Pakistan from the US only for the purpose of "defence" and to combat terrorism. Four, consult with UNSC permanent member UK, US, France, Russia and China and again push forward the proposal to ban Masood Azhar, chief of Jaish-e-Mohammad. Five, recently Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has put Pakistan into the "grey list". It will make difficult for Pakistan to take a loan from the IMF and the World Bank. Persuade FATF to put Pakistan into "Blacklist". Another potential area where India needs to work: Security Arrangements. The attack was succeeded even though the Kashmir Police had sent an intelligence input of a possible terror attack.
The Indian Territory has long suffered the pain of terrorism ranging from the 2008 Mumbai attack to recent Pulwama attack. Every attack left the country with grief and outrage to hit back hard and to ensure that it should not happen again. However, the perpetrators again find ways to fulfill their agenda. The incident again suggests instead of having a temporary solutions government should introduce a counterterrorism policy with long term objectives.
- Amit Aseri