New Delhi: After the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in which at least 174 people were killed during the 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks across Mumbai in 2008, the Indian Air Force prepared a plan to strike the terrorist camps located inside Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, former Air Force chief BS Dhanoa said adding that the plan was cancelled by the then-Congress government. The force at that time has a technical edge over the Pakistani Air Force, the former chief of IAF said.
Addressing a gathering of students, he said, “We knew where the terror camps were located in Pakistan and were ready. But it is a political decision whether to carry out a strike or not,” he said. He retired on September 30, 2019. In 2001, too, after the Parliament attack, the IAF was ready with a plan, which got rejected.
“After the J-K Assembly attack in 2001, the IAF started planning how to strike terrorist camps if there was any large-scale terrorist attack in India. This proposal was put to the government twice,” Dhanoa said. “It was put to the government after the Parliament attack, and again when the government asked about it,” he said.
“IAF has always been ready (to carry out a) strike and we have the strike capability. National leadership had to make a decision,” he said.
Dhanoa said that the IAF carried out an airstrike in Pakistan’s Balakot after the Pulwama terror attack after the leadership took a decision about it. “This time, national leadership took the decision and we carried out,” he said.
Recently, the former IAF chief divulged some secrets of the Balakot airstrike. The motive behind Balakot airstrike was to convey a strong message to Pakistan that there will be a cost to pay for terror attacks and the message was conveyed, he had said in an earlier address to students. “The government and political will was very clear to tell the Jaish-e-Mohammad and Pakistani establishment that such attacks would come at a cost and no matter where you are, be it PoK or Pakistan, we will get you and that is the message of Balakot,” Dhanoa had said.
Dhanoa, time and again, had asserted that there was a paradigm shift in the way the Indian government responds to terrorist attacks involving mass casualties. He pointed out that there was no military response from the Indian state after the 1993 bomb blast in Mumbai and the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.