Operation Swift Retort: A Surprise Day For India

Operation Swift Retort; Wreckage from one of the Indian aircraft shot down
Image Credits: ISPR

As the much-anticipated Surprise Day approaches, Indians are seen ultra-frustrated over the setback given to them by Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in the Pulwama showdown; Operation Swift Retort.

The PAF is recognized worldwide for its technological and operational excellence, backed up by unflinching national resolve. On February 26th, 2019, tensions between India and Pakistan soared to a new level, when Indian Air Force (IAF) jets intruded Pakistan’s air space. The event received widespread coverage in foreign media, allaying fears about a full-fledged war between the two nuclear-armed rivals. The events of February 27th, 2019 however marked a glorious chapter in the history, once Pakistan responded to India’s aggression with a display of might and technology.

PAF skillfully shot down two Indian fighter planes in reaction to India’s air strikes on an unsubstantiated terrorist training camp in Pakistan.

On February 26th, India launched airstrikes against what it alleged was a Jaish-e-Mohamd (JeM) training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot area. Indian Government stated that the strikes were “pre-emptive” and aimed at averting similar terrorist assaults on Indian territory. Airborne Early Warning Systems (AWACS) aided the well-practiced mission, which included twenty Mirage-2000 planes armed with Israeli Spice-2000 bombs and Crystal Maze missiles.

A composite of four photos showing the four craters in the ground left by the Indian air raids in Jaba [Asad Hashim/Al Jazeera]
A composite of four photos showing the four craters in the ground left by the Indian air raids in Jaba [Asad Hashim/Al Jazeera]

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Despite simulator training and pre-programmed explosive instructions, Indians were unable to deliver payloads to the intended target. Indian Government claimed that IAF had succeeded in killing over 300 terrorists, whereas Pakistan and several international media outlets, who visited the site rejected the baseless assertion, pointing out that there had been no deaths and injuries and that the warheads had completely missed their designated destination, which was a regular religious school for village kids, rather than being a terrorist camp. However, when an Indian aircraft dropped its payload near a hillside, it successfully killed one crow and damaged numerous valuable pine trees.

The next day, Pakistan’s military responded by shooting down two Indian Air Force fighter planes over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

While the wreckage and pilot of MiG-21 jet fell inside Pakistani territory, the other jet of IAF i.e. Sukhoi Su-30 crashed on the Indian side of border.

Pakistan’s posture against India on February 27, 2019, was one of the defence and retribution. In response to India’s airstrikes, the Pakistani military launched its strikes against Indian military sites along the Line of Control (LoC), which separates Indian and Pakistani-administered Kashmir. Pakistan’s military claimed that its strikes were in self defence and had avoided any civilian casualties intentionally.

The IAF immediately accepted the loss of one of their aircraft and reported that a pilot was also missing. Pakistan published a video of a blindfolded guy identifying himself as an Indian Air Force pilot. Government of Pakistan praised “Operation Swift Retort – PAF’s reprisal attack” as successful on February 27, 2019. A “befitting reply” was given in response to “enemy’s misadventure,” according to Pakistan’s Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, who also claimed that “the PAF’s rapid response was the evidence of our steadfast commitment, capacity, and capabilities in defeating the malicious plans of the opponent.”

Operation Swift Retort: Wreckage from one of the Indian aircraft shot down [Photo: ISPR]
Operation Swift Retort: Wreckage from one of the Indian aircraft shot down [Photo: ISPR]

Pakistan Government, immediately called for dialogue and warned of the dangers, if escalation prevailed. It was stated that “Pakistan has never been, and never will be, a part of any regional or global conflict.” In a symbolic gesture of peace, Pakistan not only engaged in diplomatic efforts but also presented the Indian pilot with a “hot cup of tea,” as an expression of goodwill, which he later termed as “Fantastic”. This step demonstrates Pakistan’s resolve to de-escalate, while conveying a message of peaceful co-existence. 

Pakistan’s stance on India on 27th February 2019 was one of resolute defence, impeccable restraint and deft political handling of a highly volatile issue.

As Pakistan responded to India’s aggression with force, it also emphasized the importance of avoiding war and called for dialogue to resolve the issue. The PAF’s prompt and forceful response acts as an indicator of its ability to defend national interests and deter future aggressors. The reaction from Pakistan demonstrates the PAF’s quick maneuverability and adaptability to Indian armed troops. PAF also demonstrated the strategic capability to attack targets outside the range of ground-based troops by launching- attacks deep into enemy territory. Despite a false flag operation at Pulwama, an Indian effort to attack deep into Pakistan failed, and a PAF counterattack on February 27 demonstrated its conventional and technological supremacy, destroying the illusion of Indian military power.

While Pakistan military is putting in its best to safeguard the air, ground and maritime frontiers, there are certain political quarters, who are hell bent to defame Pakistan Armed Forces. Recently, a smear vilification campaign was run against PAF by paid lackeys or pawn journalists of external forces, who are inimical to Pakistan. The anti-Pakistan groups, scared by the PAF’s success are using concocted storylines in their propaganda. Such a tirade without providing substantial evidence is highly condemnable.

Those who believe that they can use deceptive techniques to split Pakistan’s people and the Armed Forces must realize that their narrative is intrinsically weak and will die on its own.

Any attempt to create divisions in ranks and file of PAF will be given severe blow by the Armed Forces and the nation. This bond will strengthen further with every passing day. PAF is a highly competent and dynamic organization, which has continuously proved its capabilities in a variety of fields, including Operation Swift Retort, border monitoring, and counter-terrorism operations. The Pakistan Air Force’s exceptional achievements in obtaining cutting-edge capabilities are well-recognized not just nationally, but also globally. The leadership’s steadfast commitment cannot be shaken by the evil intents of a few. The PAF is determined to expose the culprits of this illegitimate campaign and ensure justice is delivered. The nation is determined to back up in its Armed Forces with traditional zeal and nationalistic fervor.

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