Monday 30 December 2019



We are all quite aware of the aerial confrontations between India and Pakistan in February this year. 

In the early morning hours of February 26, Indian warplanes attacked and destroyed the Islamic Fundamentalist terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed training centre at Jaba Top near Balakot town, just 50 odd km north of Abbottabad, where Osama bin Laden was located and executed. Approximately 300 inmates were killed in this precision attack, which caught the PAF with its pants down. 

As came to light in a couple of days, the massive loss of life was met with total shock and disbelief. Many videos were uploaded showing prayer and condolence meetings. Pak Army authorities were seen consoling locals from Jaba Top bereaved (about 25) with the time honoured phrase: "They are not dead, but sitting next to the Almighty, who has called them to his presence." In actuality, 253 inhabitants of the camp had died a gruesome death, smashed to smithereens. Body count was by torsos. The training centre was sealed off by the Army at 0615 hrs. Onlookers were pushed away.

Starting 0700, ambulances were called in and ten (10) were seen parked inside. They soon took away about sixty survivors to the local hospitals. Forty of these succumbed to their horrific injuries. These ambulances made only one trip. The remaining injured were left to their own devices and by 0930, had slunk away into the surrounding forest. A few survivors, mainly clergy as their Masjid wasn't attacked, were spirited away after their presence was no longer necessary.

Starting 1100 hrs, a mass grave was dug using mechanical digging machines and the body parts thrown in and covered up with training centre imams reciting apposite prayers. The total killed in this strike came to 293 Pakistanis, 95% of whom were terrorists under training.

The PAF hit back with Operation Swift Retort mid-morning on 27 February 2019. 12 x F-16, 8 x JF-17 and 8 x Mirage III/V took part in this air attack, aimed at drawing out IAF SU-30 MKIs with a decoy strike force of the workhorse veteran Mirage ac escorted by the JF-17s, and then shooting them down using AIM 120C AMRAAMS fitted on their F-16C/D ac. The mission failed as the lack of practice of the PAF pilots involved resulted in poor coordination and hurried indiscriminate missile launches at a highly trained and versatile pair of SU-30 ac, whose pilots just shrugged the launches off as poorly timed and evaded them effortlessly. At the end of the mission, the PAF withdrew having lost one F-16 but salvaged a vestige of pride by shooting down an IAF veteran MiG-21 Bison ac.

Sqn Ldr Sameer Joshi (Ret'd) of the IAF has analysed the incidents of both days over months of back-breaking and highly commendable effort. His findings are printed in this blog, immediately below.