Surprise Day - Failed Indian ‘New Normal’

Pakistan demonstrated statesmanship and strategic prudence in its response to the Pulwama tragedy.

A turning point in the geopolitical dynamics of South Asia occurred on February 27, 2019, which is now known as Surprise Day. The events that took place on this day exposed India’s military weak­nesses, its use of false flag op­erations, and the weak links in its story. The Balakot deba­cle, which not only destroyed India’s hopes of creating a “new normal,” but also dem­onstrated the power of Pakistan’s armed forces and their conventional deterrent capabilities, is central to Sur­prise Day. The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) broke through a web of deceit with Op­eration Swift Retort, which it carried out in response to India’s so-called sur­gical strike post Pulwama false flag op­eration. The leaked WhatsApp con­versations between former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta and Indian presenter Arnab Goswami exposed the planned nature of the Pulwama assault and ex­posed the Modi government’s evil plan to falsely accuse Pakistan.

“The greater the stability of the stra­tegic balance of terror, the lower the stability of the overall balance at its lower levels of violence,” said Glenn Snyder in a 1961 writing. The argu­ment is that, in contrast to an unsta­ble strategic balance, neither party will be as constrained about starting a con­ventional conflict or using restricted nuclear weapons if they both recognise that they lack a “full first-strike capa­bility.” Beginning with the Kargil con­flict of 1999, and the subsequent 2001- 2002 and 2008 India-Pakistan crises, the stability-instability paradox has been at play, but not more than in the 2019 Pulwama crisis.

The border clashes between India and Pakistan, which are often seen as regu­lar, took a dramatic turn following In­dia’s decision to intensify its reaction to the Pulwama incident. Using stand-off weaponry for ground targets across the LOC in Kashmir was a change from em­ploying air power beyond the LOC and into Pakistan’s KP area. Prior to India’s elections, this action was taken with the intention of catering to local political constituencies by creating a “new nor­mal” that could be reproduced against Pakistan elsewhere. But it appears that India miscalculated Pakistan’s conven­tional might and will to strike back. Pakistan was able to stop further es­calation by successfully restoring the status quo ante through convention­al measures. Pakistanis demanded a corresponding response to the Bala­kot strike in order to protect their Full Spectrum Deterrence Posture and ward off possible threats. The strategic com­munity asserted that deterrence is a mindset influenced by the possibilities of outcomes in a complex geopolitical landscape, and Lt. Gen (R) Tariq Khan served as an example of this by empha­sising the necessity to increase hostili­ties in order to reduce susceptibility to asymmetric conventional threats.

India’s current emphasis on strength­ening the counter-force capabilities of its air force, as seen by joint exercis­es and doctrinal reforms, underscores its strategic pivot towards becom­ing ready for a two-front conflict with China and Pakistan. India’s attempt­ed strike on Pakistani sites was great­ly aided by the Mirage-2000, which had been updated for laser-guided missiles and precision targeting. But the PAF used JF-17 Thunders and ROSE Mirage-III and V planes to launch “Operation Swift Retort,” a successful counterat­tack. Despite inherent weaknesses, the PAF was able to destroy two Indian Air Force (IAF) aircrafts, a Mig-21 Bison and a SU-30 MKI, as well as target non-military locations. The IAF’s training, operational efficacy, and general pre­paredness are further called into doubt by its incapacity to target any of the 24 PAF aircrafts, operational at that time. The disarray in the IAF leadership dur­ing the PAF counterattack points to a lack of readiness for the PAF’s surprise daytime airstrikes. Despite profession­al refutations to the contrary, the IAF’s assertion that the PAF lost an F-16 highlights the intricacies and difficul­ties that India’s air force faces.

The February 2019 India-Pakistan crisis sparked fears of a nuclear ex­change, however the IAF refrained from launching a large counterattack after the Pakistan Air Force’s counterattacks prevented a nuclear stalemate. By using conventional methods, Pakistan suc­cessfully showed its ability to deter and avoided a nuclear breach. By activating naval assets, such as the nuclear-pow­ered ballistic missile submarine INS Ar­ihant, India, on the other hand, added nuclear dimensions. Bipartisan politi­cal support for India’s right to self-de­fense served as the first impetus for the evolution of the crisis narrative. But fol­lowing Pakistan’s effective counterat­tack on February 27, the US changed course and placed more emphasis on moderation and de-escalation control. Only until Pakistan exhibited determi­nation, restoring conventional deter­rence and freeing the downed Indian Mig-21 pilot Abhinandan, did the US in­tervene. According to reports, U.S. Na­tional Security Advisor John Bolton dis­closed alleged intentions for Indian missile attacks, underscoring the deli­cate diplomatic dance involved in crisis de-escalation. Subsequently, Indian PM Narendra Modi declared that it would have been “Qatal ki Raat, or a night of massacre,” and he revealed that India had intended to launch 12 missiles for attacks against various military sites within Pakistan.

The Pulwama incident exposed a lack of trust in India’s representation of its talents and dedication as a key ally in the US’s Quadrilateral Alliance and In­do-Pacific strategy. India is acknowl­edged by the United States as a signif­icant defence and strategic ally, but its actions during the crisis cast doubt on whether they were in line with Amer­ican expectations. The Indo-Pacific Strategy, which sought to contain Chi­na, brought to light doubts about India’s capacity to live up to US expectations. Pakistan’s National Security Committee denounced India’s Balakot strike as ag­gressive and issued a cautious reaction warning. During the crisis, General Jo­seph Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the United States, com­municated with his counterpart in Pak­istan, emphasising the need of preserv­ing the strategic equilibrium in South Asia. The crisis highlighted how vul­nerable India’s Indo-Pacific geopolitical orientation is.

Pakistan demonstrated statesman­ship and strategic prudence in its re­sponse to the Pulwama tragedy. The civil-military leadership avoided nucle­ar signalling and belligerence in spite of provocations. Pakistan stopped un­checked cross-border assaults by In­dia from becoming commonplace by avoiding escalation and upholding Full Spectrum Deterrence. The events of February 27, 2019, known as Surprise Day, revealed India’s military inade­quacy and misinformation. It serves as a warning to international observ­ers keeping an eye on developments in South Asia about the perils of putting political objectives before of regional security and the truth.

Omay Aimen
The writer frequently contributes to issues concerning national and regional security, focusing on matters having a critical impact on these milieus. She can be reached at

The writer frequently contributes to issues concerning national and regional security, focusing on matters having a critical impact on these milieus. She can be reached at omayaimen333

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt