Published: Thu, February 28, 2019
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Muslims in India are proud to be Indians: Shoaib Ibrahim

Muslims in India are proud to be Indians: Shoaib Ibrahim

On Wednesday morning, India's external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, emphasised that Pakistan's military was not the target of the sorties.

These are the first aerial attacks to occur across the "Line of Control" that splits Kashmir since 1971, at which time the countries were at war.

Pakistani military shot down an Indian fighter in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir territory.

The Republic on Wednesday (Feb 27) noted with deep concern the escalating tensions between India and Pakistan and called on both sides to ensure the safety of all civilians.

"Flight EY290 Abu Dhabi to Kathmandu is returning to Abu Dhabi as a result of the en route airspace closure and is due to land at 2pm", said a spokesman.

On Wednesday, Pakistan said it had shot down two Indian Air Force jets, and had captured two pilots.

Raveesh Kumar, a spokesman for India's foreign ministry, gave a different account, telling a news briefing that the Pakistan airstrikes on military targets had been "foiled". He did not elaborate beyond saying the pilots were being "treated well" and made no mention of them being returned to India. Ghafoor says the other pilot is in custody.

Indian air force spokesman Anupam Banerjee in New Delhi said he has no information on Pakistan's statement.

Ghafoor says the Indian pilots "are being treated well". Speaking on Tuesday to a huge, cheering crowd at an election rally in the state of Rajasthan, Modi twice stated that India was "in safe hands" and declared it a "glorious day", without explicitly mentioning the attack.

The Indian air force ordered Kashmir's main airport in Srinagar and three other airports to close down because of the incidents. The Press Trust of India news agency said these airports were located at Srinagar, Jammu and Leh. Indian authorities declined to comment.

India said one of its air force planes was "lost".

Tuesday's strikes represent the worst escalation since 2001, when Pakistan and India moved ballistic missiles and troops to their border following an attack on parliament in New Delhi that was also blamed on Jaish-e-Mohammad.

An Indian foreign ministry spokesperson said Indian planes engaged with the Pakistan aircraft and brought one of them down.

"We have no intention of escalation, but are fully prepared to do so if force into that paradigm", the foreign ministry said. Pakistan simply wrote off that action and took the public position that nothing had happened, offering a face-saving off-ramp for both sides that prevented a crisis like the one we're seeing today from bubbling up.

All flights from Kabul to India have been canceled until further notice while India's state-run carrier Air India has canceled its flights until the first week of March, an airline official in Kabul said.

Freeland issued a statement Wednesday afternoon calling on both countries to "avoid any further military escalation" following Pakistan's shooting down of two Indian military aircraft in response to Indian airstrikes.

One complicating factor was the loss of Indian aircraft in the exchange on Wednesday. Khan said during a brief televised broadcast to the nation.

Eyewitnesses said soldiers fired warning shots into the air to keep residents away from the crash site.

Ever since India and Pakistan conducted tit-for-tat nuclear tests in 1998, they have both worked to enlarge their arsenals - though their stockpiles remain smaller than those of countries such as France and China. Pakistan said India launched an airstrike on its territory early Tuesday that caused no casualties, while India said it targeted a terrorist training camp in a pre-emptive strike that killed a "very large number" of militants. The United States is distracted with the ongoing summitry in Hanoi, Vietnam, and China and Russian Federation are each seen as too partisan to Pakistan and India respectively.

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