India would have certainly taken military action against Pakistan had Islamabad not returned Indian fighter pilot Abhinandan Varthaman after he was captured on the other side of the border following a dogfight after the Balakote strikes, former Deputy Army Chief Lt. Gen. Raj Kadyan told the EurAsian Times.
Kadyan said India had the option of a military strike either by Army, Navy or the Air Force.
“The army didn’t even have to cross the international border or the Line of Control (LoC) unless it was essential. They could have destroyed a couple of Pakistan’s brigade headquarters with long-range weapons, fired from our own territory.
The Indian Navy could have blocked the Karachi port, Pakistan’s Navy is no match with ours,” the former Deputy Army Chief said.
The incident of February 2019 Balakote strike was again in the news after the statement of a Pakistan politician, who in the country’s national assembly said the Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa was “shaking and perspiring” during a meeting to discuss Wing Commander Varthaman’s capture.
The Indian Air Force pilot had managed to score a kill, reportedly a Pakistani F-16, a claim denied by Pakistan, before his plane went down in the country and he was captured.
“If required, our Air Force has very sophisticated fighter aircraft, not the MiG-21, which Abhinandan was flying. But we had other aircraft – Jaguars, Sukhois, and others, and Pakistan does not have matching fighters. They possess old F-16s of the Americans, and fall behind India in superiority even in the number of fighter aircraft,” Kadyan told EurAsian Times.
The former Indian Air Force Chief BS Dhanoa also commenting on the Balakote incident said Pakistan had no choice but to return the Indian fighter pilot Abhinandan Varthaman after he was captured on that side of the border after his MiG-21 was downed in a dogfight in February last year.
Speaking to an Indian news agency, Dhanoa said, “The main pressure on Pakistan was diplomatic and political. But there was also a military posture, the way he (Mr Sadiq) is saying that ‘his legs (General Bajwa) were shaking and all’, it is because the military posture was very offensive of all the three services, Army, Navy, Air Force.”
After his Russian-origin jet was shot down, Abhinandan safely ejected only to descend down to Horan village approximately 7 kilometers off the LoC, where a violent mob of villagers captured and beat him up till he was rescued by Pakistan’s Army.
According to Dhanoa, India was ready to ‘wipe out’ Pakistan’s forward bridges had their military response been successful after the Balakote strike. He said the Balakote strike had put fear into Jaish-e-Mohammad and their handlers, adding that India had the capacity to hit them inside the territory of Pakistan.
The Balakote strike was again a hot debate after the speech by the Pakistan Muslim League-N leader Ayaz Sadiq, in which he said the country’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had in an important meeting said if Pakistan did not release Wing Commander Varthaman, India would attack Pakistan “that night by 9 pm.”
“I remember Shah Mahmood Qureshi was in the meeting in which (Prime Minister) Imran Khan had refused to attend and Chief of Army Staff General Bajwa came into the room, his legs were shaking and he was perspiring.
Foreign Minister said for god’s sake let Abhinandan go, India’s about to attack Pakistan at 9 pm,” Mr Sadiq recounted the events of the meeting.