Former Air Force chief BS Dhanoa on Saturday said that the previous government had rejected the plan to hit terror camps in Pakistan after the 2001 Parliament and 2008 Mumbai attacks. Dhanoa revealed that the Indian Air Force (IAF) had started working on a plan to strike terrorist camps across the border in Pakistan after the car bombing of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly in 2001.
"After the J-K Assembly attack in 2001, the IAF started planning how to strike terrorist camps if there was any large-scale terrorist attack in India. This proposal was put to the government twice," Dhanoa said. He added, "It was put to the government after the Parliament attack, and again when the government asked about it."
Describing the Indian Airforce's readiness he said that the then IAF chief was ready to strike terrorist camps located inside Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) after the Mumbai attacks, stating that we had a technical edge over the Pakistani air force.
"IAF has always been ready (to carry out a) strike and we have the strike capability. National leadership had to make a decision," he said.
Comparing it to the Balakot strike, Dhanoa said that the IAF carried out an airstrike in Pakistan's Balakot after the Pulwama terror attack after the Centre took a decision about it.
"This time, national leadership took the decision and we carried out," he said. Dhanoa was the air chief between December 31, 2016, and September 30, 2019.
On February 26, a squadron of the IAF had crossed over to Pakistan and destroyed the largest JeM terrorist training camp in Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. This was done to avenge the Pulwama terror attack which had been perpetrated by the Pakistan-based terror group and for which it took responsibility. In the aftermath, Pakistan had first denied that any such airstrike had taken place, and then claimed that the IAF's bombs had missed their mark and hit a nearby forest, destroying trees and nothing more. However, visuals accessed by Republic TV later called out Pakistan's bluff, showing that the SPICE bombs used had decimated the terror complex, with sources pegging that there had been up to 300 terrorists at the facility at the time.
(With ANI inputs)