What Will Be the Strategic Ripple Effects of Balakot?
After more than 40 Indian paramilitary forces died as a result of a suicide attack in the Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir on February 14, many analysts swiftly declared Indian retaliation inevitable. Few anticipated the reach of the resulting airstrikes, which the Indian government claims targeted Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) training camps in Balakot in northern Pakistan.
Though the damage done by the Balakot strikes has been cause for debate, what cannot be denied is that Indian warplanes crossed the Line of Control (LoC) for the first time in over five decades. From there, Pakistan retaliated in a calibrated manner by entering and dropping bombs over Indian territory across the LoC, which led to a dogfight between Indian and Pakistani warplanes.
A Reuters report citing Pakistani and Western sources suggests that both countries threatened one another with missile strikes before the pilot of a downed MiG-21, who had been captured by the Pakistani military, was returned to India in a “goodwill gesture.”
Read the full op-ed in The Wire.