Airstrikes worsen India-Pakistan tensions
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 2/27/19, 11:09 am
Increasing tension with India prompted Pakistani aviation authorities on Wednesday to close the country’s airspace to all commercial flights. Pakistan also shot down two Indian jets that entered its airspace and captured two pilots. India said it targeted a terrorist training camp in Pakistani territory with a pre-dawn airstrike the day before. The recent unrest began Feb. 14 when a car bomb killed 40 Indian paramilitary police officers in the disputed border region of Kashmir. The Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group claimed responsibility for the attack, and Pakistani authorities denied any involvement.
Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale called Tuesday’s airstrike a preemptive one that eliminated senior members and fighters of the extremist group. Pakistan denied any casualties. Pakistani army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor said his country’s forces “have no intention of escalation, but are fully prepared to do so if forced into that paradigm.” Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan called on his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, to help negotiate a solution.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947. The ongoing clashes are the worst since the 1971 war over Kashmir. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement urged both sides to exercise restraint and avoid escalating the conflict.
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