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Lecturrete topic 311 - Pulwama Terror attacks



On February 14, 2019, India was rocked by one of the deadliest terror attacks in its history. A suicide bomber targeted a convoy of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir, resulting in the tragic loss of 40 CRPF personnel. The Pulwama terror attacks not only escalated tensions between India and Pakistan but also drew global attention to the issue of terrorism in the region. This article provides a comprehensive analysis of the Pulwama attacks, examining the historical context, the events of the attack, its immediate aftermath, the geopolitical implications, and the responses from India and the international community.

Historical Context

Kashmir Conflict

The region of Jammu and Kashmir has been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan since the partition of British India in 1947. Both countries claim the region in full but control only parts of it. The conflict has led to several wars and continuous skirmishes along the Line of Control (LoC). The insurgency in Kashmir, which began in the late 1980s, has further complicated the situation, with numerous militant groups operating in the region.

Previous Attacks

The Pulwama attack was not an isolated incident but part of a pattern of terrorist activities in Kashmir. Previous significant attacks include the 2001 Indian Parliament attack, the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and the 2016 Uri attack. These incidents have consistently strained India-Pakistan relations and highlighted the persistent threat of terrorism in the region.

The Attack

The Incident

On the afternoon of February 14, 2019, a convoy of 78 vehicles carrying over 2,500 CRPF personnel was traveling on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. At around 3:15 PM, a Mahindra Scorpio SUV laden with approximately 300 kilograms of explosives rammed into one of the buses in the convoy near Lethpora in the Pulwama district. The explosion was devastating, killing 40 CRPF personnel and injuring many others.

Jaish-e-Mohammed’s Role

The Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed responsibility for the attack. The suicide bomber was identified as Adil Ahmad Dar, a local Kashmiri youth who had joined JeM a year earlier. JeM’s involvement in the Pulwama attack underscored the group's capability and intent to carry out high-profile attacks in India, further complicating the security situation in Kashmir.

Immediate Aftermath

National Response

The Pulwama attack triggered widespread outrage and mourning across India. Vigils and protests were held in various parts of the country to honor the fallen soldiers. The Indian government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, vowed to take decisive action against the perpetrators of the attack. In a swift response, India withdrew the Most Favored Nation (MFN) status accorded to Pakistan and imposed a 200% tariff on Pakistani goods.

Diplomatic Efforts

India launched an extensive diplomatic campaign to isolate Pakistan internationally, accusing it of harboring terrorist groups. Indian diplomats engaged with key global players, including the United States, Russia, and the United Nations, to garner support for their stance against Pakistan. The United Nations Security Council condemned the Pulwama attack, and several countries expressed solidarity with India and called for action against terrorism.

Geopolitical Implications

Balakot Airstrike

In response to the Pulwama attack, the Indian Air Force (IAF) conducted airstrikes on February 26, 2019, targeting a JeM training camp in Balakot, Pakistan. This marked the first time since the 1971 war that Indian jets had crossed the LoC to strike inside Pakistani territory. The Balakot airstrike escalated tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors and brought them to the brink of another conflict.

Pakistan’s Response

Pakistan retaliated by launching airstrikes across the LoC on February 27, 2019. An ensuing dogfight resulted in the downing of an Indian MiG-21, and its pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, was captured by Pakistan. However, in a gesture aimed at de-escalation, Pakistan released the Indian pilot on March 1, 2019, signaling a temporary thaw in the heightened tensions.

International Reactions

United Nations

The United Nations Security Council condemned the Pulwama attack in the strongest terms and reiterated the need for all countries to combat terrorism in all its forms. The UN’s response highlighted the global consensus against terrorism and the necessity of international cooperation in addressing the threat.

Major Powers

Countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Russia expressed their support for India and condemned the attack. The United States specifically called on Pakistan to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure on its soil. France, in a significant move, pushed for the designation of JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist under the UN sanctions regime, a move that was eventually successful in May 2019.

Counter-Terrorism Measures

Indian Strategy

Following the Pulwama attack, India intensified its counter-terrorism operations in Jammu and Kashmir. Security forces conducted several operations targeting militant hideouts and neutralized many top commanders of various terrorist organizations. Additionally, India focused on enhancing intelligence gathering, border security, and collaboration with international partners to prevent future attacks.

Global Cooperation

The Pulwama attack underscored the need for enhanced global cooperation in the fight against terrorism. India actively engaged with various international platforms and countries to share intelligence, enhance counter-terrorism capabilities, and push for stricter measures against countries harboring terrorists. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) placed Pakistan on its "grey list" and urged it to take more stringent action against terrorist financing.

Statistical Insights

Casualties and Impact

The Pulwama attack resulted in the deaths of 40 CRPF personnel, making it one of the deadliest attacks on Indian security forces in recent history. The scale of the attack and the use of a large quantity of explosives highlighted the evolving tactics of terrorist groups in the region.

Economic Impact

The immediate economic impact of the Pulwama attack included a significant increase in defense spending and heightened security measures across India. The imposition of a 200% tariff on Pakistani goods also affected bilateral trade, which had been relatively limited but still significant for certain sectors.

Public Sentiment

The Pulwama attack galvanized public sentiment in India against terrorism and Pakistan’s alleged role in supporting terrorist groups. There was a surge in nationalistic fervor, with widespread calls for strong retaliatory measures against the perpetrators. The incident also influenced the political landscape, with national security becoming a key issue in the 2019 general elections.

Long-Term Consequences

India-Pakistan Relations

The Pulwama attack and subsequent Balakot airstrike significantly impacted India-Pakistan relations, leading to a prolonged period of heightened tensions. While direct military conflict was avoided, the incidents underscored the fragile nature of peace and stability in the region. The diplomatic channels between the two countries remained strained, with limited engagement on various bilateral issues.

Counter-Terrorism Policies

The attack prompted a reevaluation of counter-terrorism policies and strategies in India. There was a renewed focus on intelligence sharing, technological advancements in surveillance, and strengthening the capabilities of security forces. Additionally, the government emphasized the need for international cooperation in combating terrorism, particularly in addressing the financing and safe havens of terrorist groups.


The Pulwama terror attack of February 14, 2019, was a watershed moment in India’s fight against terrorism. It not only highlighted the persistent threat posed by terrorist groups in the region but also underscored the complexities of India-Pakistan relations. The attack led to significant military, diplomatic, and economic responses from India and drew international attention to the issue of terrorism in South Asia. Moving forward, it is imperative for India to continue strengthening its counter-terrorism capabilities, enhance international cooperation, and work towards long-term peace and stability in the region. The Pulwama attack serves as a stark reminder of the challenges posed by terrorism and the need for a coordinated and comprehensive approach to address this global menace.