The Indian Air Force struck back at Pakistan after the Pulwama attack on Tuesday, 26 February, and carried out “non-military” and “preemptive” strikes across the LoC, targeting Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camps in Pakistan.
As soon as the news hit the media, Twitter buzzed with posts hailing the Indian Air Force. This is “New India,” some said, while others hailed it as a “defining moment.” Hashtags IndiaStrikesBack, SurgicalStrike2 and IndianAirForce were the top trends on Twitter.
This is New India????— Upasana Singh (@upasanatigress) February 26, 2019
We are no longer reactive. We are now proactive like US and Israel.??
We attacked Pakistanis in their own homes and made them feel the same pain we had on 14th February.?
Thank You @narendramodi and #IndianAirForce ??
The message from India’s use of air power for the first time against cross-border terrorist camps is that it is not afraid to escalate its response to the aerial domain in order to call Pakistan’s nuclear bluff. This could mark a defining moment in India’s counterterrorism drive.— Brahma Chellaney (@Chellaney) February 26, 2019
Journalist Sagarika Ghose said that the strike “speaks volumes for the exceptional courage and gallantry of India’s security forces.”
That Indian Air Force & intelligence were able to carry out a top secret operation within Pak territory, strategically take out Jaish militants & camps without targeting civilians, speaks volumes for the exceptional courage & gallantry of India's security forces. #IndianAirForce— Sagarika Ghose (@sagarikaghose) February 26, 2019
Tweeple Take Potshots At Pakistan
Many Indian users also took jibes at Pakistan.
Incursion analysis from a tea stall in Srinagar: "Pakistan's Chinese radars had dead batteries".— Rayan Naqash (@rayan_naqash) February 26, 2019
‘This Is Just The Beginning’
Several Twitter users said this was just the beginning and there’s more to come for Pakistan.
Salute to Indian air Force and our government for teaching a lesson to Pakistan in the language they understand best.ये नया भारत है घर मे घुसेगा भी और मारेगा भी....— Avneesh chaudhry (@Akchaudhry55) February 26, 2019
Around 200-300 teriroists killed in air strike. #pulwama #SurgicalStrike2 #IndiaStrikesBack
The Question Of Casualties
Journalist Rajdeep Sardesai tweeted that the number of casualties in the air strikes was being circulated without any attribution or evidence.
A death toll of 300 killed doing the rounds on our news channels with no attribution/evidence; Pakistani channels claim zero casualties again with no independent confirmation/evidence . War games being played on news channels, too serious a matter to be driven by TRPs.. crazy..— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) February 26, 2019
Another journalist Piyush Rai tweeted a video, in which the mother of a constable killed in the Pulwama attack talks about wanting proof about casualties of the air strike. “Not even a single terrorist was shown to be dead, nor was there any news on it. I want revenge that I can see on TV. The bodies of our soldiers were shown on TV, why not the bodies of terrorists,” she asked.
As much as I am happy about the strikes. I still want some proof that there were casualties and this is not just a political hoax. Am I wrong in this? #indianAirForce #Surgicalstrike2 #Balakot #howsthejosh #airstrike— Himalaya Mariana (@himalayamariana) February 26, 2019
‘Should Not Escalate Into War’
Some of Twitter also voiced concerns about people calling for war between India and Pakistan.
IAF tone & statement was measured.— Priyashmita Guha (@priyashmita) February 26, 2019
But forget Bhakts, even non bhakts have decided to do war mongering to glory on twitter.
Learn from our defense forces.
Our airforce has done us proud. The credit solely lies with them.— बुकरात वकील (انس) (@Vakeel_Sb) February 26, 2019
However this should not escalate into war.
Look around yourself and see who's playing politics over it. They're the real enemies. All this was predicted back in 2014.
As a resident of a border state I always have mixed thoughts about such air strikes, attacks and all...— ਪੰਜਾਬ ਨਾਗਰਿਕ (@akdwaaz) February 26, 2019
We have seen 3 wars and we know how dangerous it is. Not exactly something to rejoice for. Need extreme caution.
The celebrations can wait, brace for retaliation, said one Twitter user.
Brace for retaliation. The celebrations can wait till later.— Man Aman Singh Chhina (@manaman_chhina) February 26, 2019
And fools sharing troop movements on Whatsapp should know better.
The time is “critical” for South Asia’s 2 billion people, said another Twitter user, who asked Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to prioritise people over politics.
An extremely critical time for South Asia's 2 billion people. This is the time for Imran Khan to be a true leader and not be as irresponsible as Modi. Prioritize people over politics.— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) February 26, 2019
Voices From Pakistan
It was busy day for Twitterati in Pakistan too. Major General Asif Ghafoor, the director general of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), had put out a tweet claiming there were “no casualties or damage” in the air strikes.
Many Twitter users in Pakistan then questioned the credibility of the strikes.
Balakot is around 10-15 kms from AJK as the crow flies - & 40 kms from the LoC - Indian jets intruded past the LoC and into eastern KP & were responded to by the PAF - they beat a hasty retreat and in doing so dropped their payload on basically a bunch of trees and open clearing pic.twitter.com/iUhiMO7iYc— omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) February 26, 2019
Some Pakistani Twitter users also said mere condemnation of the incident was not enough and called for a "befitting response” from Islamabad. “Will we respond with tit for tat,” they asked.
Indians claiming the raid took place at 3:30 in the morning. They are saying 1000 kg payload. Did anyone wake up the prime minister? Was there a top-level policy huddle? Will we respond tit for tat or just fire tweets?— Syed Talat Hussain (@TalatHussain12) February 26, 2019
Indian hostility against Pakistan direly needs a befitting response. The entire Pakistani nation stands behind its defence forces.— Ansar Abbasi (@AnsarAAbbasi) February 26, 2019
Pakistan must respond in kind to Indian attack on our Homeland. Mere condemnation of Indian aggression will encourage the aggressor.— Nasim Zehra (@NasimZehra) February 26, 2019
Pakistan Govt Faces Flak
Many Pakistani journalists and other personalities criticised the government for not taking action during the air strikes.
6 hours after Indian aircraft came into our territory, dropped ‘payload near Balakot’ and went back unscathed, Shah Mehmood Qureshi calls an ‘Emergency meeting at the Foreign Office’. This is tragic. Even a tortoise can move faster than this.— Syed Talat Hussain (@TalatHussain12) February 26, 2019
Others Call For Peace
Those wanting to react with aggression are clearly oblivious to repercussions, tweeted Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar. Pakistan and India must never fight another war, she said.
Those who wish for war, or wish for Pakistan to react with aggression seem to be oblivious of the repercussions of even a small-scale war in a region that is still suffering consequences of a foreign war in Afghanistan.— Mehr Tarar (@MehrTarar) February 26, 2019
Pakistan and India must never fight another war.
Many others echoed her thought, saying that allowing sanity to prevail takes “real courage.”
Starting a war is easy so is chest thumping but what takes real courage and grit is to allow sanity to prevail. To respond not react. We have successfully fought terrorism on our soil. We have nothing to prove and no chests to thump. India should take stock of IOK and Modi’s mess— Meher Bano Qureshi (@MeherBanoQ) February 26, 2019
One Twitter user from Pakistan asked both the countries not to endorse war.
Hello progressives in the Subcontinent. Our states have been ruthless with us. Lets not repeat their mistakes. And anyone calling for peace knows full well what their own state has done domestically. That doesn't mean we should endorse any other kind of war. Thats just stupid— Zebunnisa Burki (@zburki) February 26, 2019
‘Kashmir Will Bear The Brunt Of War’
There were also voices from both India and Pakistan that said Kashmir and Kashmiris will bear the brunt if both the countries go to war.
India, Pakistan, guess what, resolving Kashmir is an infinitely better option. You’ve fought a few times before and the fact that you’re still at it means only thing: it hasn’t worked for either country. Most certainly not for Kashmir.#Don’tStartWars— Mirza Waheed (@MirzaWaheed) February 26, 2019
If the last thirty years are anything to go by, the only real outcome of heightened India-Pakistan tensions will be that more Kashmiris are killed and maimed.— Omair Ahmad (@OmairTAhmad) February 26, 2019
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