The Pakistani Air Force (PAF) has moved into a full operational alert after India’s Air Strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Balakot. The Pakistani Air Force has deployed the entire squadron of F-16 fighters along its eastern front of the LoC even as independent American satellite imagery with the Indian Air Force (IAF) has confirmed direct hits on the camp, top defence and government officials said to the Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity.
According to the officials to the Hindustan Times, while Pakistani air space restrictions continue along the country’s borders with India, the Rawalpindi headquartered 10 Corps along with a Special Forces brigade from Sialkot of the Pakistan Army have been deployed all along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.
Referring to India’s 2016 counterstrike on terror installations within Pakistan after the terror strike on Uri, one of the officials said, “We have confirmed reports that PAF’s F-16 acquired from both US and Jordan are on high alert all along India-Pak border—from Hyderabad in Sindh to Skardu in Northern Areas. The Pak Army deployment including radars and air defence system along the LoC was strengthened immediately after the February 14 Pulwama attack as they expected Indian retaliation similar to that of the surgical strike,” said one of the officials, referring to India’s 2016 counterstrike on terror installations within Pakistan after the terror strike on Uri, also by JeM.
Earlier, the Indian Air Force gave the government radar and satellite images showing bombing of the "intended targets" at the JeM terrorist training camp in Pakistan's Balakot and "causing significant damage" to it, sources in the security establishment said. The source-based information about the "evidence" comes in the backdrop of a report by a foreign news agency claiming that satellite images of the Jaish-e-Mohammad Madrasa in Balakot showed the facility is still intact and buildings are standing.
The government was given on Sunday all the "evidence" of the February 26 strike on the JeM camp, including radar and satellite imagery, which showed that the S-2000 laser-guided munition hit the intended targets causing significant "internal damage", sources said. S-2000 smart bombs penetrates the targets and cause a blast inside, as per sources.
They also said that the IAF has collected from independent sources satellite imagery of the site of the JeM camp after the strike to assess the impact of the operation, and these images have also been handed over to the government. The news report, which drew a comparison between an April 2018 image of the camp with that of an image taken on March 4, 2019, to show it is practically unchanged, also comes amid raging debate over the number of human casualties in the Balakot air strikes.
Briefing reporters last week, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had said "a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated", while the government sources said 350 terrorists were killed. Later, BJP president Amit Shah put the toll at 250.
Amidst media reports suggesting minimal damage during these air strikes, opposition parties have been clamouring for clarity.