Crisis in Kashmir: what happened the last time India and Pakistan were so close to a conflict

Crisis in Kashmir: what happened the last time India and Pakistan were so close to a conflict

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The tension between the two nuclear powers of South Asia is high and is increasing.

As part of the escalation of the Kashmir conflict, Pakistan had shot down two Indian Air Force planes and captured one of the pilots after the aircraft fell on its territory.

India, for its part, confirmed that it had lost a MiG-21 fighter and demanded Pakistan’s prompt return of the pilot, although the Indian claim that it had also shot down a Pakistani plane was sharply denied by Islamabad.

The air attacks on the other side of the Line of Control that divide the territory of both countries in Kashmir were the first since 1971 , but nothing guarantees that they will be the last.

They occurred in response to the suicide attack perpetrated in February in Pulwama, the Kashmiri area controlled by India.

The action, which resulted in the death of 40 Indian soldiers, was the most lethal in the three decades of insurgency in the region.

And a group of Islamic militants based in Pakistan won the same.

Indian soldiers observe the remains of the attack in Puwalma
Copyright of the image GETTY IMAGESImage caption The February 14 attack in Pulwama resulted in 40 Indian soldiers killed.

 

As explained by the correspondent of the BBC in New Delhi Soutik Biswas, the challenge now for India and Pakistan is to prevent the situation from escalating until it goes completely out of control.

In Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the nation and called for de-escalation of the conflict and resumption of dialogue.

The last time India and Pakistan collided

Although both India and Pakistan claim all Kashmir as their own, each country controls only a part of the territory and since its independence from the British in 1947 they have already gone to war twice because of it.

The last time tensions between the two countries were so high, however, was in September 2016, when India carried out what it termed “surgical strikes” against militants in the Pakistani-run Kashmir area, although Islamabad denies that have produced such attacks.

Pakistani soldiers near one of the two Indian planes shot down
Copyright of the image AFPImage caption Pakistani soldiers near one of the two Indian planes shot down.

 

India said it launched these “surgical attacks” in response to an attack on a military base in Uri, in Indian Kashmir, which resulted in the death of 19 soldiers.

Earlier, in January of that same year, a four-day attack on an Indian air base in Pathanok – a border town in the Indian state of Punjab – had killed seven Indian soldiers and six militants.

In both cases, Islamabad and New Delhi managed to de-escalate the conflict and the situation had remained tense calm until the Pulwama attack.

The latter was claimed by “The soldiers of Muhammad” (Jaish-e-Mohammad, JeM), an Islamist group based in Pakistan.

Pakistan denied any connection with it, but India promised to do everything possible to achieve the total international isolation of its neighbors.

The environment in India

Since the attack in Pulwama, ” the rage has taken over India, ” says the BBC correspondent in Delhi Vineet Khare.

“People have marched in the candlelight demanding strong reprisals,” adds Khare.

During the last few weeks, the tone of press reports and political speeches has been strongly nationalistic, and “with federal elections just around the corner, no Indian government will want to be perceived as weak or cowed by terrorism,” Khare continues. .

Video in which the alleged Indian pilot is seen.
Copyright of the image PAKISTAN INFORMATION MINISTRYImage caption The Ministry of Information of Pakistan published a video in which the alleged Indian pilot is seen.

 

According to our correspondent, when it was learned that India had launched air strikes against what he said was a JeM base in Pakistan, there were celebrations.

But the mood was clouded when Pakistan reported that it had captured an Indian pilot and posted a video showing it to the world.

The vision from Pakistan

Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan, called for calm and dialogue with India saying that neither he nor his counterpart in that country, Narendra Modi, could afford an escalation, given the weapons in their possession.

“If we let that happen, the events will no longer be under my control or that of Narendra Modi, we have to sit down and talk,” Khan said.

But according to the BBC correspondent in Pakistan Tahir Imran, the current state of mind in the country is of patriotic fervor .

“There is a feeling of frenzy in both conventional media and social networks,” says Imran.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan
Copyright of the image GETTY IMAGESImage caption Prime Minister Khan called to de-escalate the situation.

 

“There are a lot of bravado and warmongering, ” says Imran, but also “there are people who ask for calm and tranquility.”

According to our correspondent, several “false news” have been shared through social networks “and have sometimes been taken over by TV channels”.

“There is concern and anxiety about what may happen”, but also a widespread feeling that the conflict will not escalate.

“Both sides are asking for moderation,” explains Imran.

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Rava Desk

Rava is an online news portal providing recent news, editorials, opinions and advice on day to day happenings in Pakistan.

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