Following the successful air strike by Bharat on terror group JeM’s main terror camp in Balakot, Pakistan, questions are now being asked why such action was not undertaken in the aftermath of the horrific 26/11 attack on Mumbai when the nation’s financial capital was held hostage by 10 jihadis and 209 people were killed, many of them subjected to barbaric torture by the Pakistani terrorists.
Following the Balakot strike, and even before, many veterans revealed that the IAF had proposed a cross-LoC air strike after 26/11, but the then UPA government rejected the option.
Post 26/11, then Wing Commander Mohonto Panging was all set to lead a squadron of Mirage 2000s and Su-30s in a precision air strike on Muzaffarabad in PoK, but no decision came from the Government of the time, the ex-fighter pilot tweeted.
“After the Mumbai 26/11 attacks, we had planned a similar air strike on Muzaffarabad. I was leading the Sukhoi squadron. Our plan was kept under wraps and I had to lie to my boys that we were going somewhere else,” the retired Group Captain-turned-entrepreneur, columnist and author told Times of India.
The plan, however, did not materialise. “We were deployed and waited for nearly a month. But government approval never came… Today, I am glad the strike happened,” he said. Commissioned in the IAF in the flying branch in 1989, Panging is a founding member of both the first Su-30K and Su- 30MKI squadrons in the IAF.
Chief of Air Staff confirms UPA lacked will to strike after 26/11
In Nov 2017, Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Fali Homi Major revealed that the Indian Air Force was ready to take revenge for the devastating 2008 Mumbai terror attacks but the then United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government ‘blocked’ any further action on the surgical strike option.
The former IAF chief said that the heads of the three services of Indian Armed Forces were called for a meeting on 28 November, 2008 at the then PM Manmohan Singh’s residence along with defence minister AK Antony, defence secretary, and Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analyses Wing representatives.
During the meeting, the IAF chief apprised the then PM that from logistics to weapons and planes, everything was ready to strike terror-training camps in PoK. But he never received a go-ahead from the government.
In the wake of 26/11 attack, “Surgical strike was an opportunity lost and we didn’t make use of it,” Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Fali Homi Major said, adding that even a small tactical action by the Air Force has a strategic effect.
A UPA ‘Insider’ also confirmed to Times Now that this meeting took place and the former IAF chief had put forward 2-3 absolute actionable points. However, the intelligence machinery during the UPA regime was clearly falling back on its tasks as there was no intel on coordinates on terror camps. Perhaps, due to this inefficiency, the IAF did not know the precise position of intended targets, that is the terror camps across the LoC, into Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK). There was always a fear of collateral damage. So, a decision was taken to gather more accurate intel.
Another CCS (Cabinet Committee on Security) meeting was held on December 02, six days after 26/11. During that meeting, military options for a counter strike in PoK were discussed at length ad nauseam. However, it seemed the UPA lacked the will to carry out what the Army, Air Force, and perhaps even the Navy wanted. PM Singh and other UPA Cabinet ministers were not keen on allowing the military options as they feared retribution from Pakistan.
Not only did UPA fail to retaliate against Pakistan following the worst terror attack Bharat has ever faced, veteran Congress leader and Nehru-Gandhi family loyalist Digvijay Singh actively helped spread conspiracy theories that RSS was behind the 26/11 attack.
Certain ‘neutral’ commentators working for American think tanks quickly jumped to Congress’ defense, claiming that UPA’s ‘restraint’ after 26/11 allowed Bharat to build the ‘moral capital’ which it was able to use to carry out the Balakot strike with support of the international community.
Both true: 1. Modi’s response to Pulwama attack is much stronger than Manmohan Singh’s to 2008 Mumbai attacks. 2. India’s restraint in 2008 helps it sell its post-Pulwama response. On the world stage, MMS earned India moral capital that Modi is now spending. #IndiaStrikesPakistan
— Sadanand Dhume (@dhume) February 26, 2019
What such analysts will not tell you is that no self-respecting, sovereign nation should ever need approval from external powers to defend itself. In any case, Bharat had already gathered enough so-called moral capital by the time 26/11 occurred – we had been fighting Pakistan sponsored terror for 20 years by then, not just in J&K, but also in Punjab and several other parts of the country. We had exercised restraint despite grave violations – 1993 serial bombings in Mumbai by Pak-based Dawood Ibrahim’s gang, Kargil incursion in May 1999, IC-814 hijacking in Dec 1999, attack on nation’s parliament in Dec 2001, Kaluchak army camp massacre in May 2002, multiple train bombings on Mumbai & other cities by Pak-backed jihadis.
This is the only response to those trying to sugar-coat the UPA Government’s cowardice post 26/11 –
Inaction after #Mumbai carnage of 26/11 was neither "restraint" nor produced any "moral capital".
Such equivocal attitude that dignifies cowardice and prevents a resolute response is precisely why we have become a punching bag for #Jehadi terror.https://t.co/dOheRkDwIB
— Sushil Pandit (@neelakantha) February 27, 2019
What Bharat is doing now with regards to cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan was long overdue, and a much needed correction in our security doctrine. Don’t let anyone whitewash apathy of previous Governments and tell you otherwise.
Did you find this article useful? We’re a non-profit. Make a donation and help pay for our journalism.