Kashmir Crisis Update: 2 March, 2019

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A growing number of Western media outlets, particularly in the United States, are beginning to regard the latest Pakistan-Indian crisis as now beginning to ease. Pakistan’s release of the Indian pilot who’d been captured after ejecting over Pakistani-administered Kashmir territory is a step in the right direction. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s action has certainly defused immediate escalation, but danger still remains. Khan, and his counterpart in New Delhi Narendra Modi are not out of the woods. The possibility of this crisis worsening before it improves cannot be ruled out just yet.

Following the pilot’s release, hostilities in the vicinity of the Line of Control (LoC) broke out again. India and Pakistan targeted each other’s military posts and villages in close proximity to the border. Casualties were suffered on both sides of the LoC, including five civilians, and two Pakistani soldiers dead. Although tragic, exchanges of artillery fire like this are common and rarely enough to spark escalation. However, given what’s happening at the moment, it would be more productive for India, and Pakistan to refrain from taking any further military actions in Kashmir.

Pakistan and India are being urged to sit down and talk by a host of nations, NGOs, and supranational bodies around the world. Today, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) adopted a resolution pushing the rival nations to resolve their issues ‘through peaceful means.’ Yesterday, Russia offered to act as a mediator between Islamabad and New Delhi to ease tensions. Pakistan was fast to accept the offer, yet it is unclear if India has even mulled it over.

Pakistan has reopened its airspace with heavy restrictions which are expected to remain in place until 4 March, 2019. This essentially means that most of Pakistani airspace will remain closed longer than expected, which will undoubtedly lead to further complications and delays for all air carriers in the region.

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