27022019-TTC-01.qxd 2/27/2019 1:57 AM Page 1 13 chandigarh | gurugram | jalandhar | bathinda | jammu | srinagar | vol.139 no.57 | 34 pages | ~4.50 | regd.no.chd/0006/2018-2020 established in 1881 | wednesday, february 27,2019 late city IAF bombsJaish base in Pak NEW LINE OF CONTROLMirage 2000 jets destroy terror camp in first such cross-border airstrike KV Prasad Tribune News Service New Delhi, February 26 In a pre-dawn stealth attack, Indian Air Force jets on Tuesday pounded the biggest training camp of terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) at Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa territory, characterising the operation as a “pre-emptive, non-military action” against terror. Lasting all of 21 minutes, Operation Balakot began at 3.30 am with a batch of Mirage 2000 planes carrying out the mission, leading to the elimination of trainers, commanders and trainees (said to be around 300) at the camp located on the hilltop in the home province of Pakistan PM Imran Khan. As the news broke, the sullen mood in the country since the Pulwama attack 13 days ago changed, with political leaders joining people and personalities in effervescent praise of the brave air warriors. Expectedly, tensions mounted along the Line of Control after Pakistan violated the ceasefire at several places, drawing retaliation from Indian troops. The camp, 80 km from the Line of Control, was headed by Yousuf Azhar alias Ustad Ghouri, the brother-in-law of Masood Azhar, the JeM chief, who too is said to be among those killed. On his part, PM Narendra Modi emphasised at a party rally at Churu that he would not let the country down, while leaders at an allparty meeting chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj spoke in one voice, praising the IAF . The deftly executed plan by the IAF which fielded vari, ous platforms to back up the operation, caught Pakistan by surprise and sent a sharp message of India’s capability to strike at a place and time of its choosing, which the government said Indian military was authorised to launch post-Pulwama. Mindful of international reaction, that many countries fear could lead to escalation of conflict between two nuclearweapon states, India declared it acted on credible RAW intelligence that JeM was attempting another suicide terror attack. “In the face of imminent danger, a pre-emptive strike became absolutely necessary,” Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale announced soon after the Cabinet Committee on Security reviewed the situation. EDIT: PERFECT STRIKE BARRIER IS BROKEN PAGE 10 OPED: IAF SET FOR BIG ROLE SURGICAL STRIKE 2.0: OPERATION BALAKOT 21 MINUTES 1,000 KG BOMBS, 80 KM — DISTANCE total duration of the cross-border strike besides air-to-surface Popeye missile, used of Balakot camp from the Line of Control 3.30 AM OPERATION BEGAN CHINA PoK 12 MIRAGE JETS USED of JeM at Balakot in Kyhber Pakhtunkhwa of Pakistan, around 80 km west of the Line of Control ■ Terrain in the region is mountainous, which would have helped Indian planes take cover and evade radars TIME OF STRIKE LoC BALAKOT SRINAGAR JAMMU & KASHMIR ■ Operation began at 3.30 am on Tuesday, a time when the alertness of radar system operators is more likely to be lower; firing lasted 9 minutes and the entire operation involving fighter jets took less than 21 minute to complete New Delhi, February 26 It was a tweet by a Pakistani army spokesperson at 5.12 am that alerted the media and the strategic community on both sides of the LoC about the surgical strike at a Jaish camp in Pakistan. “Indian Air Force violated Line of Control. Pakistan Air Force immediately scrambled. Indian aircraft gone back. Details to follow,” tweeted Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor. Within a few hours, Ghafoor, in a series of tweets, claimed, “Indian aircrafts’ intrusion across LoC in Muzafarabad sector was 3-4 miles. Under forced hasty withdrawal, aircrafts released payload which had freefall in open area. No infrastructure got hit, no casualties (sic).” He also tweeted photographs supposedly of a “payload that fell in the open”. But as details emerged of Delhi claiming a major strike at the biggest Jaish camp in Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, well inside Pakistani territory, the Pakistani army, establishment and government huddled into a series of high-profile meetings. In a statement, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi called it an act of “grave aggression” by India that would be given a “befit- Bhisiana air base in Bathinda, Guru Gobind Singh refinery, the NFL and oil depots. An uneasy calm prevails at the Pathankot Air Force station, located 40 km from the International Border. The base acts as the first line of defence. In the 1971 war, its runway was badly damaged. The 1999 Kargil war was virtually commandeered from here. The Mamun ammunition dump, considered the biggest in Asia, is being closely guarded too. Security has also been tightened in Bamial village, a stone’s throw away from the border. Mili- ■ At 3.30 am, 4 Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jets took off from Bareilly (UP) for “offensive sweep” close to Pakistan boundary to “attract attention” of radars EQUIPMENT USED PAKISTAN MASOOD’S BROTHER-IN-LAW HEADED CAMP Yousuf Azhar, who headed the Balakot Jaish camp, is wanted by CBI in IC-814 hijacking case. Brother-in-law of Jaish chief Masood Azhar, Yousuf was key conspirator in Kandahar hijack case. Masood was released in exchange of 154 hostages in 1999 by then BJP-led NDA govt. Yousuf is believed to have been killed in the IAF strike on Tuesday. CHINA CALLS FOR ‘RESTRAINT’ ❝ We hope that both India and Pakistan can exercise restraint and do more to improve their bilateral relations. Chinese Foreign Ministry and control (AWAC) aircraft system, a mid-air refueller and drones; AWAC is typically used to jam enemy’s radar ■ 1,000 kg laser-guided bombs, besides air-to-surface missile “Popeye”, used to destroy the terror camp STRATEGY EMPLOYED ■ Mission would have taken meticulous planning ■ Decoy and surveillance missions conducted ■ Jets may have flown low at sub-sonic speed, hugging the terrain as much as possible to avoid the radar RISKS FACED ■ Typically once alerted, it only takes about three minutes for fighter jets to respond on an incursion and get airborne. In this case, it was likely the Pakistani security forces were only alerted after the strike, allowing Indian jets enough time to cross back into their own airspace ting response as Pakistan has a right to self-defence”. However, soon after the Pakistan national security committee meeting convened by PM Imran Khan, the tone and tenor was different, with the Indian claims called “fictitious and one made with an eye on upcoming General Election in the country”. “Once again, the Indian Government has resorted to a self-serving, reckless and fictitious claim. This action has been done for domestic consumption,” said the PMO. Like after the 2016 surgical strikes, Islamabad chose to opt for deniability of the IAF targeted strike. continued on page 4 Tribune News Service Jammu/Srinagar, February26 Pakistan troops resorted to heavy mortar shelling on 55 forward areas in Jammu, Rajouri and Poonch districts, injuring five soldiers, after IAF jets struck a JeM terror camp across the LoC, Army sources said. The Pakistan army used heavy weaponry, firing 120 mm mortars targeting civilian hamlets and forward posts. It fired from small, automatic and heavy weaponry in Krishna Gati, Balakote, Khari Karmara, Mankote, Tarkundi (Poonch district), Kalal, Baba Khori, Kalsian, Laam and Jhangar areas (Rajouri) and Pallanwala and Laleali (Jammu). Troops along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) are on high alert. The Army and the Border Security Force (BSF) have been asked to restrict their movement and not to venture out of their posts and camps. “Troops have been deployed all along the 225-km-long LoC in Jammu starting from Chicken Neck area in Akhnoor to Anaganpathri area of Poonch,” a defence official said. “There are apprehensions that Pakistan Rangers and militants may target BSF personnel and try to push in infiltrators.” Punjab border dists on high alert, no evacuation Chandigarh, February 26 Punjab’s border districts are on high alert in the wake of the Air Force strikes in Pakistan. No evacuation orders have been given yet, but residents have been asked to remain vigilant. Police commandos have been stationed outside vital installations. Security in the vicinity of the Halwara Air Force station has been strengthened. Sukhdev Singh of Halwara village said they were woken up by the deafening sound of fighter planes at 2.45 am. Commandos have also been deployed near the 4 SUKHOI-30 AS DECOY ■ 12 Mirage 2000 fighter jets, an airborne early warning From aggression to denial, Five hurt in shelling Pak sends confused signals on 55 forward areas Tribune News Service 3 public events, and ‘aarti’: PM after operation THE TARGET ■ Indian Air Force attacked the hillside camp Khanpur villagers shift belongings to safer places in Fazilka. tants, who attacked the Dinanagar police station in 2015 and the Pathankot air base in 2016, are believed to have entered from Bamial. The Army has begun movement in Dera Baba Nanak. Reports say the government schools at Haruwal and Shahpur Goraya villages have been Today’s issue is of 34 pages, including four-page Jobs and Careers, six-page Chandigarh Tribune and four-page Life+Style. converted into base camps. A godown on the outskirts has also been taken over. Leave applications of all government officials in the border belt have been put on hold. Several check-posts have been set up on the GurdaspurPathankot stretch of the highway. Residents of border villages in Fazilka have started shifting to safer places. Security personnel have begun holding meetings with locals, asking them to keep an eye on anti-social elements and strangers. Sirsa in Haryana too is on high alert. — TNS More on Page 5 Vibha Sharma Tribune News Service New Delhi, February 26 Barely hours after the “non-military, pre-emptive action” against Jaish-e-Mohammed, an unambiguous message of India’s “josh”, strength and resilience, an unflappable Prime COUNTRY IN SAFE HANDS ■ Two airborne radars — one mounted on IL-76 — took off from Hindon air base and another on Embraer flew from Bathinda, providing live picture of Pakistan air space ■ By then, 12 Mirage 2000 jets were already airborne from Gwalior and Punjab; jets flew low behind the Himalayan ridge line evading Pak radars ■ 6 Mirage jets were ordered to take a shot at Balakot DETAILED COVERAGE PAGE 2, 3, 4 the day ❝ Today isIndia’s to pay homage to bravehearts. I assure you the country is in safe hands. Narendra Modi, PM Minister was back to business as usual, attending three public events — beginning with a function at Rashtrapati Bhawan and ending it with “aarti” of a giant Bhagwad Gita. The PM was up all night, said sources, tracking the IAF operation. continued on page 4
The Tribune, now published from Chandigarh, started publication on February 2, 1881, in Lahore (now in Pakistan). It was started by Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia, a public-spirited philanthropist, and is run by a trust comprising four eminent persons as trustees.
The Tribune, the largest selling daily in North India, publishes news and views without any bias or prejudice of any kind. Restraint and moderation, rather than agitational language and partisanship, are the hallmarks of the paper. It is an independent newspaper in the real sense of the term.
The English edition apart, the 133-year-old Tribune has two sister publications, Punjabi Tribune (in Punjabi) and Dainik Tribune (in Hindi).