India demands Pakistan release pilot as Kashmir crisis intensifies

NCA oversees the operational command and control of the country’s nuclear arsenals

NCA oversees the operational command and control of the country’s nuclear arsenals

The latest wave of tensions between Pakistan and India first erupted after the militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed responsibility for the February 14 suicide bombing of a convoy of India's paramilitary forces in the Indian portion of Kashmir that killed over 40 Indian troops.

At the Pakistani briefing, Ghafoor produced photographs of weapons and identity documents he said were carried by Indian pilots.

"With general elections just weeks away, the conflict gives Modi and the [Bharatiya Janata Party] a clear advantage", said Milan Vaishnav, the director of the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "This crisis allows him to tap into all three".

New Delhi has not commented on Pakistan's claim.

"It's an extremely unsafe situation".

Mr Raveesh Kumar, a spokesman for India's Ministry of External Affairs, said: "Due to our high state of readiness and alertness, Pakistan's attempts were foiled successfully".

"Better sense should prevail", he added, before alluding to the nuclear arsenal of both South Asian countries.

The attack targeted the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), the group that claimed credit for the suicide attack.

The Pakistani civil and military officials have rejected the claim.

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.

Now, it seems, the Indian government is making good on that promise.

Air Canada said it has temporarily suspended service to India because of Pakistan's airspace closure.

Yesterday's confrontation began after Pakistani aircraft struck in Indian territory, in apparent retaliation for an earlier Indian attack on alleged militant camps within its borders.

"The Indian Army retaliated for effect and our focused fire resulted in severe destruction to five posts and number of casualties", the spokesman said. "We exposed their escalations and their false claims, we offered global observers to come and examine the claims of India". But it seems to have satisfied the Indian people.

India has alleged that Pakistan refuses to crack down on the militant organization and therefore bears responsibility for the attack. "There's a careful balancing act here".

Imran Khan addressed the nation today hours after one captured Indian pilot, bloodied and blindfolded, was paraded for the cameras by Pakistan's military.

At least one private Indian airliner, Vistara, said airspace across north India had been closed and flights to and from Amritsar, Srinagar, Chandigarh and Jammu have been put on hold.

"My biggest worry is not a command order from either side's leadership to escalate the conflict, but a miscalculation or miscue down the respective chains of command", said James Schwemlein, a former US diplomat who worked in the region.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also spoke to his Pakistani counterpart, Pakistani Chief of Defense Zubair Mahmood Hayat, on Tuesday.

"The jets entered the Indian air space over Nowshera in Rajouri district this morning", a police officer said, adding that the Indian fighter jets on air patrol immediately scrambled and pushed them back beyond the LoC.

Unfortunately, once you have this kind of weapons on both sides and if there is a desperate situation, then a desperate situation will lead to desperate measures. He says one of the planes crashed in Pakistan's part of Kashmir and the other went down in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Yesterday, countries around the world called for calm.

Some experts and former officials worry the Trump administration is stretched too thin or simply doesn't have any interest in dispatching senior officials to play a more active mediating role.

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