Tensions between India and Pakistan are at their highest level in decades after India launched airstrikes against a militant group’s training camps in Pakistani territory. These strikes were in retaliation for the terrorist attack on 14 February that killed 40 Indian paramilitary troops in Pulwama. The militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) claimed responsibility for the attack, and it was JeM’s camps that the Indian Air Force targeted and struck. Violence in the Kashmir region increased following the 14 February attack, with militant groups on both sides making cross-border raids.
Tuesday’s air strike was the first time Indian aircraft have violated the Line of Control (LoC) since 1971. The attack was made by 12 Indian Air Force Mirage 2000s. Multiple suspected JeM camps were hit with 1000kg bombs. The Mirages were escorted by Su-30MKI Flanker-H fighters. There was no engagement between Indian and Pakistani fighters.
On Wednesday, the Pakistani F-16s violated Indian air space and struck targets in close proximity to Indian Army positions. Pakistan claims it shot down two Indian MiG-21s that responded to the airspace violation, while India is claiming it shot down a Pakistani F-16. Apparently one Indian pilot is in the custody of the Pakistani authorities or armed forces. The fate of the second pilot is unknown.
The responses to the events of the last two days from Islamabad and New Delhi and been measured, and urge restraint. Whether or not these words become action remains to be seen. Predictably, the rest of the world is also urging restraint. Pakistan and India are both nuclear powers as well as bitter rivals. The fact that both nations have nuclear weapons adds a new dimension to the current crisis.
There will be regular updates on the crisis in Kashmir in the coming hours, and if anything major should develop it will be reported.