Retired Indian General VK Singh, who now serves as Minister of State for External Affairs, told a Saturday press conference that if New Delhi ever considered Pakistan as a friend, it would become the country’s “biggest weakness”.
“I was informed about opposition candidates in the border areas of Rajasthan claiming that Pakistan was not a threat to India and hence it should not be treated as an enemy nation. But a country which has been triggering proxy wars against India besides being a terrorist hub can never be treated as a friend. Treating Pakistan as a friend will be the biggest weakness of India”, he said.
Addressing the claims that Indian strikes on an alleged terror camp in Pakistan’s Balakot killed 250 terrorists, Singh said that the numbers were based on different reports, and were not the actual figures.
“According to the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), around 300 phones were active in the area at the time of the air strike. Assuming that 250 of the cellphone users were terrorists, we estimated that around 250 militants were killed”, Singh added.
The long-lasting conflict between the two nuclear arms wielding neighbours was exacerbated by a suicide bomb attack reportedly claimed by Pakistan-based Jaish-e Mohammad on 14 February that killed some 40 Indian troops.
Pakistan, for its part, has disputed these claims, insisting that the Indian aircraft didn’t target any terrorist infrastructure.
On the next day after the strikes, Pakistan claimed it had downed two Indian warplanes over the Line of Control (LoC) – the de facto border – and captured an Indian pilot, who was released several days later.
New Delhi confirmed the detention of the pilot, as well as the loss of only one aircraft, having come up with a counter-claim that the Indian Air Force had shot down a Pakistani US-made F-16.
In a bid to corroborate its arguments, the Indian military displayed fragments of an AMRAAM medium-range missile recovered in the Indian-administered part of Kashmir that is said to have been fired by the US-built fighter jet. The Pakistani side has flatly denied scrambling any F-16s for dogfights or sustaining any losses.