Days after the Indian Army announced it had carried out surgical strikes against seven terror launch pads along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, a top official of the country’s security establishment has told The Indian Express that “if provoked again, we will amend our operational tactics”.
Sending Pakistan a tough message, the official, who was closely involved in planning the surgical strikes in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, said: “The surprise element in such an operation is key to its success and there will be no predictable repetition. If provoked yet again, we will amend our operational tactics. And for the time being, the continuing denial of Pakistan that there were no surgical strikes is a stance that suits us.”
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Details are slowly trickling in about the timing and nature of the attack in which, officials said, an estimated 45-50 militants, mostly belonging to the Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba, may have been killed or grievously injured. The largest number of fatalities were in the Lipa area of PoK, followed by Kel and Bhimber.
No effort was, however, made and no time was lost by members of the commando teams in counting the casualties. A key official said, “The ferocity of the attack was such and the surprise element so complete that it was unlikely, many militants would have survived. The fact is that there was no retaliation whatsoever and the only setback to the operation was a mine-blast injury suffered by one commando.”
Before the strike, specific intelligence and intercepts had been received that these launch pads — semi-built structures which have since been substantially damaged in the attack by rocket launchers and grenade launchers — were almost fully occupied and that the militants were waiting for the moonless night of September 30, or amavasya, to ingress.
The intelligence inputs had given a clear signal that military targets were to be hit again, barely two weeks after the September 18 Uri attack in which 18 soldiers were killed.
The Indian side had also factored in the dark night period while deciding when to strike at the militant hideouts snuggling the LoC. The fact that the United Nations General Assembly session ended on September 26 and by September 28, Pakistan looked isolated as the host of the November SAARC summit, were other factors that came into play. The surgical strikes may, thus, have been advanced by a day or two.
With the commando teams, numbering close to 150 personnel, already transported near the LoC, probably two days in advance, tactical details of the stealth operation were continuously repeated.
The Indian Express has learnt that the precise timing for the attack was pre-fixed and everything was planned backward. With the seven commando teams needing varying time to reach their targets — depending on the terrain and distance — the assault teams were launched from Indian territory on a staggered schedule so that the strikes could be simultaneous and swift.