On February 27th, India and Pakistan are on the brink of a major conflict, after the latter claimed it had shot down two Indian fighter jets in response to the bombing of alleged terror targets in Pakistan.
Tensions have been rising since a suicide car bombing by Pakistan-based armed group, Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), in Indian-administered Kashmir killed at least 42 Indian paramilitary forces on February 14.
However, on February 26th, the risk of escalation rose dramatically after India bombed targets inside Pakistan in what was described as a “non-military pre-emptive action” against armed group JeM.
Pakistan reported the Indian airspace incursion, with military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor saying its air force jets were scrambling to respond, forcing the Indian aircraft to “release [their] payload in haste while escaping”.
Indian Air Force violated Line of Control. Pakistan Air Force immediately scrambled. Indian aircrafts gone back. Details to follow.
— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) February 25, 2019
Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, however, asserted that the jets had hit their target, and that “a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated
“The government of India is firmly and resolutely committed to taking all necessary measures to fight the menace of terrorism,” he said. “Hence this non-military pre-emptive action was specifically targeted at the Jaish-e-Mohammed camp.”
Then followed the Pakistani response on the next day.
In response to PAF strikes this morning as released by MoFA, IAF crossed LOC. PAF shot down two Indian aircrafts inside Pakistani airspace. One of the aircraft fell inside AJ&K while other fell inside IOK. One Indian pilot arrested by troops on ground while two in area: DG ISPR
— Govt of Pakistan (@pid_gov) February 27, 2019
India confirmed the Pakistan strikes but said that it had lost only one aircraft. One pilot was missing, it said. India did not say where its plane went down.
Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said an Indian air force plane retaliated, shooting down a Pakistani jet, which fell on the Pakistan side of the border.
The Pakistani military then said that it holds one Indian pilot, earlier it said it had two, but India said it only had one pilot unaccounted for.
There is only one pilot under Pakistan Army’s custody. Wing Comd Abhi Nandan is being treated as per norms of military ethics. pic.twitter.com/8IQ5BPhLj2
— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) February 27, 2019
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said his country is ready for dialogue with India and urged the need for “better sense to prevail.”
Prime Minister Imran Khan offers India to settle issues through dialogue.
— Govt of Pakistan (@pid_gov) February 27, 2019
“I am addressing India. It is very important that we use wisdom,” Khan said
He also urged to avoid “miscalculations.”
“History tells us that wars are full of miscalculation. My question is that given the weapons we have can we afford miscalculation,” Khan said.
Turkey also called for calm between the countries. Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu voiced concern over the increasing tension between India and Pakistan.
“We are concerned over this tension. We want to call for common sense and calm between the parties. Steps that will escalate the tension should be avoided,” Cavusoglu said.
Turkey considered the dispute over Kashmir as the source of the issue.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May urged India and Pakistan to show restraint.
“The UK is deeply concerned about rising tensions between India and Pakistan and urgently calls for restraint on both sides to avoid further escalation,” May told Parliament.
EU Foreign Affairs Representative Federica Mogherini also urged “utmost restraint” amid the tensions.
Germany also called for calm. “The federal government makes an urgent appeal for both sides to refrain from steps that could further escalate the conflict,” German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Adebahr said.
Also, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif spoke over the phone with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and offered mediation between India and Pakistan, after rising tensions between the two countries. Zarif urged both countries to practice restraint. According to Iranian media, Zarif will also speak to the Indian foreign minister, but did not specify when.
The US National Security Council also concluded that Potential risks associated with further military action by India and Pakistan are unacceptably high.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also urged the two countries to “exercise restraint.”
“We encourage India and Pakistan to exercise restraint, and avoid escalation at any cost,” Pompeo said in a statement after speaking with the foreign ministers of both countries. He said that in talks with both sides he stressed “the priority of de-escalating current tensions by avoiding military action, and the urgency of Pakistan taking meaningful action against terrorist groups operating on its soil.”
Finally, many airlines cancelled flights to Pakistan and to some parts of India as a result of the tensions.
Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad, flydubai, Gulf Air, SriLankan Airlines, and Air Canada are the companies that cancelled their flights.
Flightradar24.com, showed Singapore Airlines, Finnair, British Airways, Aeroflot, and Air India were forced to reroute flights.
— Alex Macheras (@AlexInAir) February 27, 2019
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- India Claims It Shot Down One Pakistani Jet, Lost MIG-21 Fighter Jet In Border Confrontation
- Indian Air Force Used Israeli-Made Heavy Guided Bombs In Its Attack On Pakistan
- Pakistan Shoots Down 2 Indian Aircraft Inside Its Airspace: Defense Ministry (Photo, Video)