Sources said Pakistan Air Force (PAF) commanders were still worried about possible attacks more than two months after an Indian Air Force (IAF) counter-terror strike on Pakistan’s Balakot region. The sources told India’s Economic Times newspaper the PAF F-16s had been flown from their home bases in Punjab province an redeployed across satellite airbases to avoid major losses in possible strikes from India.
They said the PAF “has been at forward locations all along the Line of Control and the International Border after the Balakot strikes and its failure to counter India”.
The Pakistan Army has also maintained a heavy deployment of tanks and armoured regiments along Sialkot region close to Jammu region and Indian forces are keeping a close watch on their activities there.
India has also made precautionary deployments against these armoured formations on its side of the borders including its own advanced armoured forces.
The latest move comes amid simmering tensions between Islamabad and New Delhi which boiled over on February 14 when at least 40 Indian security personnel were killed in a terrorist attack in Pulwama, India.
Responsibility for the deadly attacks was claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist group.
Indian officials accused Islamabad of harbouring and sponsoring the Islamist extremists and launched retaliatory airstrikes on alleged terror infrastructure targets in Pakistani territory.
Pakistan, which denied the Indian allegations, responded with tit-for-tat raids and said it downed two IAF fighter jets in aerial clashes.
An Indian pilot who ejected was released a few days later in what Islamabad called a “peace gesture”.
India has confirmed the loss of only one of its warplanes and suggested a MiG-21 Bison jet was struck after it had shot down a Pakistani F-16. The PAF denies losing any of its fighter jets.
Both sides remain on high alert after the February clashes.