Pakistan’s Prime Minister has sparked fears of a nuclear conflict with neighbouring India as military tensions rise to dangerous levels amid claims of warplanes shot down and a pilot captured.
Pakistan on Wednesday announced it had shot down two Indian military jets and captured a pilot in the latest development in the heightened military action over the disputed Kashmir region.
India confirmed it had lost one MiG-21 fighter and demanded the immediate and safe return of its pilot, who it said is “missing in action”.
In a live address to the nation late Wednesday night, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan warned against an escalation in military action.
“Can we afford any miscalculation with the kind of weapons that we have and you have?” Mr Khan asked India, in reference to Pakistan and India’s nuclear arsenals.
“If this escalates, things will no longer be in my control or in [Indian Prime Minister] Narendra Modi’s,” he continued.
Raveesh Kumar, a spokesman for India’s foreign ministry, said at a news briefing Thursday morning (Australian time) that India shot down one Pakistani plane that landed in its own territory, and had lost one of its own planes due to an exchange of artillery fire by both sides, with the pilot “missing in action”.
Mr Kumar said India also successfully foiled Pakistan’s attempts to carry out airstrikes in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
“All wars are miscalculated, and no one knows where they lead to,” Mr Khan warned
“World War I was supposed to end in weeks, it took years. Similarly, the US never expected the war on terrorism to last 17 years,” he added.
It was our plan to not cause any collateral damage, and not to cause any casualties.We simply wanted to show capability. Two Indian Migs crossed Pakistan’s Borders, and we shot them down.I want to now address India and say let sanity prevail. #BetterSenseShouldPrevail pic.twitter.com/HsicyaqgUu— PTI (@PTIofficial) February 27, 2019
Pakistan used heavy calibre weapons in 12 to 15 emplacements along the Kashmiri border, known as the Line of Control, a spokesman for the Indian defence forces said on Wednesday.
“The Indian Army retaliated for effect and our focused fire resulted in severe destruction to five posts and number of casualties,” the spokesman added.
Five Indian soldiers suffered minor wounds in the shelling that ended on Wednesday morning, he added. There have been no civilian casualties on the Indian side and no evacuations.
Pakistani officials said at least four people had been killed and seven wounded, including civilians, with thousands evacuated and schools closed in border areas.
Major General Asif Ghafoor, a spokesman for the Pakistan armed forces, said two Indian jets had been shot down after they entered Pakistani airspace while responding to a Pakistani aerial mission on targets in Kashmir.
Mr Ghafoor said it captured one of the pilots.
PAF respond against strick done by Indian air force.#Paikistanarmy#Pakistanairforce#Sergicalstrick#Pakistanrespondagainststrick#IndianFailedStrike #PakistanAirForce #GetReadyForSurprise pic.twitter.com/7VDZOrj3yq— Ahsan Raza (@AhsanRa92571015) February 27, 2019
Mr Ghafoor said one of the jets crashed on the Indian-controlled side of the Line of Control, and the other on the Pakistani side.
He said the Pakistani planes had carried out the attacks in response to India’s air strike the day before but had taken deliberate action to ensure no casualties were caused.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she was very concerned by reports of the escalation in the conflict, urging “both sides to exercise restraint”.
“I would encourage direct dialogue between both countries to endeavour to resolve these matters in a peaceful way,” Senator Payne said during a visit to London.
Senator Payne said “the cycle of escalation … is very dangerous for all concerned”.
Image: Kashmiri villagers gather to look at the wreckage of an Indian aircraft after it crashed in Budgam area, outskirts of Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Wednesday, Feb.27, 2019