India should have hit the Jaish-e-Mohammad headquarters in Pakistan with precision air strikes within hours of the Pulwama car-bombing attack on a CRPF convoy on February 14 in which 49 personnel died, a former air force vice chief has suggested.
“The air force will do what the government wants it to do. Time has come to take a very strong stand. You know where it (terrorism) is coming from, you know who is encouraging it. So, the air force should be fully armed, it should be on hair-trigger alert at all times. It should be on hair-trigger alert at all times. When an attack like this happens, we should be ready to strike at the terrorists. The air force should be the first instrument of response,” Air Marshall (retired) M Matheswaran told DH.
He said that the fear of escalation to nuclear war, often used by Pakistan to thwart Indian action, is not credible. “Both of us (India and Pakistan) know what will happen if we exercise that option. We should put the onus of escalation on Pakistan and see if it indeed acts in an escalatory manner,” he said.
The Narendra Modi government has so far tried, without much success, to corner Pakistan diplomatically after the Pulwama attack. While many countries have condemned the attack, none have thought it fit to send Pakistan a message through action against it for hosting and sponsoring terrorist groups and individuals. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, for instance, made no mention of the Pulwama attack during his visit to India.
While British High Commissioner Sir Dominic Asquith said on Wednesday that Britain was one of the countries, apart from France and the US, making efforts to get Jaish chief Masood Azhar listed by the UN as a global terrorist, a top NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) official present at Aero India suggested that NATO countries may not be too keen to move against Pakistan at this time, given they need Islamabad’s help to negotiate a deal with Taliban in Afghanistan. “You know, it’s a tricky situation for us. Pakistan is an integral part of the dialogue with Taliban,” he told DH, on condition of anonymity.