Amid intelligence report of close to 500 terrorists eager to infiltrate near the Pakistani border, the Indian army has confirmed its readiness to respond with full force in order to deter a threat which has been at its highest level in recent years.
“Why must you expect a repeat of a similar thing? Earlier we did something, then we did Balakot. Why must we repeat…why tell him (the enemy) what we are going to do? Why not keep him guessing, why to say repeat? Why not something beyond that?” General Rawat replied when asked whether the military is mulling a similar kind of response.
The army chief said the number keeps fluctuating but "at least 500 terrorists" are waiting to cross the border. Sources estimate that over 50 terrorists have already crossed over to the Indian side in the last two months.
The army chief said that as the snow melts, terrorists have been waiting at a launchpad near Gurez, and nearby areas to infiltrate into the country.
In past few weeks, Indian authorities and military officers have accused Pakistan of reactivating the launch pad in retaliation for India's decision to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on 5 August.
Last Wednesday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan warned terrorists against spreading violence in Kashmir, saying the Indian authorities were waiting for “any excuse” to crack down on the residents of Kashmir.
“If some terrorists or people from Pakistan go to India and he thinks he will fight in Kashmir ... the first person he will be inflicting cruelty on is the Kashmiris. He will have acted as an enemy of the Kashmiris and Pakistan,” Khan told media recently.
The tension between the two nuclear-armed nations escalated after India carried out an aerial strike in Balakot inside Pakistan to destroy alleged terror infrastructure operated by the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror group. The move was to avenge the killing of 40 Indian security personnel in a suicide bombing attack by JeM terrorist on 14 February.
On 27 February, Pakistan retaliated to India’s pre-dawn strike and reportedly shot down an Indian fighter jet in a dogfight while an F-16 operated by the Pakistan Air Force was also shot down, according to the IAF.
The tension resurfaced in the first week of the August after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status. Reacting to India's move on Kashmir, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian high commissioner.