On September 28, news broke that India had conducted ‘surgical strikes’ across the LoC in Pakistan. As these rumours were confirmed true, the news spread like wildfire, leading people to wonder whether Pakistan would retaliate, whether it would lead to a new war, what really happened, and more.
Here is what we know so far:
1. India targeted seven different camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).These were apparently terrorist camps where people were placed to allegedly infiltrate Kashmir and eventually, India.
2. According to a report in The Wire, India has stated that the strike was ‘pre-emptive defence’, i.e., attacking an enemy before they have a chance to respond. The report has further stated that while this may be seen as controversial according to international law, considering the worldwide ‘war against terrorism’, there is unlikely to be action against India for it.
3. The attacks have reportedly been recorded on video, using devices such as drones, and the footage has been preserved. The government is yet to decide whether to release the footage or not.
4. There have been no Indian casualties reported so far. However, Pakistan was taken by surprise and the camps in question have incurred great losses. According to an NDTV report, at least “10 terrorists have been killed per camp”.
5. The military operation in question has been described as a ‘surgical strike’: the kind of operation which targets a very specific area and does not damage any of the surrounding areas. This strike has allegedly hurt not only the terrorists but also their handlers.
6. It is not clear if it was a ground operation or if air forces were also used. According to this PTI report, the operation started at midnight and continued till 4:30 a.m., while Pakistani army officials have stated that firing continued for “six hours”.
7. Pakistan’s initial response was to release a statement that ‘two of its soldiers had been killed in ‘cross border firing’. Following India’s announcement of a ‘surgical strike’, it subsequently released a statement that no such ‘surgical strike’ had taken place. According to a report in The Wire, it has stated that “India was claiming ‘cross-border firing’’ as the ‘surgical strike’ and has called the firing ‘unprovoked’”.
8. In an interesting note, the targets chosen were specifically not Pakistani infrastructure but suspected terrorist camps. As this report speculates, it was possibly a method of sending a strong message to Pakistan without letting the situation escalate any further.
9. Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif has responded by saying that he condemns “the unprovoked and naked aggression of Indian forces” and the Pakistani army has warned that if Indian troops cross the border, it will strike back. According to Islamabad, this is also a “blatant attempt to deflect attention from human rights abuses in the area”.
10. This is the first major military operation India has carried out post the Uri attacks, where 18 soldiers were killed by militants who allegedly belonged to Pakistan. While India has been considering several options, including diplomatically isolating Pakistan on the international stage, this is the first sign that any kind of major military response was underway. This is also likely in response to the rising public anger over the Uri attacks and the Indian government’s subsequent tough talk.