Amid calls from the international community for deescalating tensions between the subcontinental nuclear-armed rivals, India has accused Pakistan of “unprovoked aggression” and warned of “firm and decisive action”’ after the Pakistani Air Force hit an Indian jet fighter.
The India-Pakistan tensions look set to worsen further as Pakistan’s Air Force targeted military installations on the Indian side across the Line of Actual Control on February 27, a day after Indian Air Force destroyed the biggest terror camp of Jaish e-Mohammed, the architect of the Pulwama massacre.
In a statement read out to the media, India’s external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar clarified that “due to our high state of readiness and alertness, Pakistan’s attempts were foiled successfully.”
“The Pakistan Air Force was detected and the Indian Air Force responded instantly. In that aerial engagement, one Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft was shot down by a MiG 21 Bison of the Indian Air Force,” he said.
“The Pakistani aircraft was seen by ground forces falling from the sky on the Pakistan side,” he added.
“In this engagement, we have unfortunately lost one MiG 21. The pilot is missing in action. Pakistan has claimed that he is in their custody. We are ascertaining the facts,” he said. Putting on a brave face, Pakistan denied that its aircraft was shot down in the aerial encounter.
Amid spiralling tensions, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan tried to justify the aerial strike not as retaliation but as self-defence and offered to resolve all issues, including cross-border terror, through dialogue.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs found this spin by Pakistan as specious and summoned Pakistan’s Acting High Commissioner in New Delhi to “lodge a strong protest at the unprovoked act of aggression by Pakistan against India earlier today, including by violation of the Indian air space by Pakistan Air Force and targeting of Indian military posts.”
Accusing Islamabad of aggression, India made it clear that unlike India’s non-military anti-terror pre-emptive strike at a JeM terrorist camp in Balakot on 26 February 2019, Pakistan has acted with aggression against India.
“It is unfortunate that instead of fulfilling its international obligation and bilateral commitment to take credible action against terrorist entities and individuals operating from its soil, Pakistan has acted with aggression against India,” said India’s external affairs ministry.
“It was clearly conveyed that India reserves the right to take firm and decisive action to protect its national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity against any act of aggression or cross-border terrorism.”
The Indian side also handed a dossier to the Pakistan side with specific details of JeM complicity in Pulwama terror attack and the presence of JeM terror camps and its leadership in Pakistan. “It was conveyed that India expects Pakistan to take immediate and verifiable action against terrorism emanating from territories under its control.”
Given the fraught situation, it’s unclear what will be the next move of India. As of now, there is a danger of war-mongering and the situation spinning out of control, leading to the intervention by the big powers to calm tensions between the nuclear-armed arch rivals.
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