Fresh reports suggest that India and Pakistan barely escaped the mutually assured destruction scenario as tensions between the two-nuclear armed neighbours were drastically exacerbated by the downing of an Indian warplane last week.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that the military’s alertness foiled a potential missile attack by India at five sites inside the country:
“The armed forces were alert… our intelligence was confirmed. Diplomatic and military contacts played a role in stopping the attack. The civilian and military leadership was also in contact [over the matter]”, he told a private TV channel, according to the Daily Times.
The foreign minister then said that Pakistan was fully aware of the ties between India and Israel, which was allegedly included in New Delhi’s reported plan to strike Pakistan from its Rajasthan airbase:
“They are in contact since long and regularly share intelligence reports with each another”.
Neither India, nor Israel has commented on the claims so far.
His comments come shortly after Pakistan’s leading English-language newspaper Dawncited a high-ranking government source Monday as saying that India had plotted a “dangerous attack” from its Rajasthan airbase on Pakistan with help from Israel.
New Delhi was allegedly planning to carry out a missile attack that would possibly take the two countries to a “point of no return”.
Timely intelligence reports allegedly sent India a clear message that Islamabad would respond accordingly if it were to green light the plan. The attack was purportedly planned to be conducted from the Rajasthan airbase, located about a 100 km from the international border with Pakistan.
The senior official pointed out that the next potential escalation by India would likely be in the form of a hybrid conflict involving militant attacks or economic measures rather than air or missiles strikes.
In a parallel development, the ANI news agency cited top Indian Air Force sources as claiming that they were planning to equip its Su-30MKI combat aircraft with the Israeli Spice-2000 bombs, which were purportedly used in an air raid on an alleged terrorist band in Pakistan last week:
“At the moment, the only aircraft which is capable of delivering the bombs on enemy targets is the Mirage 2000. But now the Air Force is putting them on the Su-30s as well to further enhance their firepower. After a few more trials, the Su-30 fleet would be equipped with these bombs which rely on coordinates and satellite pictures of the target to home in and destroy the intended targets”, the source said.
The tensions between the two nuclear weapon-wielding adversaries reached a boiling point over the past week, with the Indian Air Force carrying out strikes against a suspected training base of the Pakistan-based terrorist organisation, Jaish-e Mohammad.
The air raid was conducted in response to a deadly suicide-bomb attack claimed by the group on an Indian paramilitary convoy in the contested region of Kashmir on 14 February.
Following the Indian airstrike, Pakistan brought down two Indian warplanes over the Line of Control and captured an Indian pilot, who was, however, released two days later in what Islamabad called a gesture of good will.
The IAF confirmed the loss of its MiG-21 and announced that one of its warplanes had shot down a US-made F-16, allegedly scrambled by the Pakistan Air Force in a dogfight. Islamabad, for its part, has vehemently denied that the fighter jet was ever deployed or downed.Brexit: ‘positive signals’ coming from Brussels, says Jeremy Hunt