Delhi: India has “forward deployed” some warships, submarines, maritime patrol aircraft and fighter jets to keep track of a major naval exercise by Pakistan in the north Arabian Sea, which will include missile and rocket firings as well as combat maneuvers over the next few days.
Top defence establishment sources on Wednesday said “close tabs” are being kept on the unfolding Pakistani exercise, with the Indian armed forces also being kept operationally ready “to prevent any misadventure” by the neighbouring country during it.
“There is a heightened threat perception about strikes, whether by state or non-state actors, after India revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. Even if the Pakistani exercise is a regular one, like the joint naval-air one called `Ribat’ conducted every year, intentions can change very quickly,” said a source.
The Navy, apart from warships and submarines, is also using its Poseidon-8I patrol aircraft for long-range maritime reconnaissance over the exercise area. “There are at least seven to eight Pakistani warships there,” said a source.
The Indian armed forces have been maintaining high operational readiness ever since the IAF conducted the pre-dawn air strikes against the major Jaish-e-Mohammed training facility at Balakot in Pakistan on February 26. The Balakot facility, incidentally, was revived for terror training earlier this month.
“Though a conventional military conflict does not seem likely, we cannot take any chances. Moreover, after J&K’s special status was revoked on August 5, there have been several intelligence inputs that a big terror strike could be in the offing,” said an official.