China reiterates call for India and Pakistan to exercise restraint

by Garry Watts February 28, 2019, 0:18
China reiterates call for India and Pakistan to exercise restraint

Kashmiri villagers gather near the wreckage of an Indian aircraft after it crashed in the Budgam area on the outskirts of Srinagar.

Minutes before the reports from India, Pakistan had said it shot down two Indian Air Force planes in its airspace in Kashmir, adding that one Indian pilot had been captured. Also, any cross-border attacks were always within Pakistan-administered Kashmir, a disputed territory, and not in Pakistan proper, as was the case with the September 2016 "surgical strike" in response to the Uri army camp attack in Indian-administered Kashmir.

The armed forces on Wednesday asserted that Pakistan did not want to retaliate at the cost of regional peace but the country had no option but to respond after India's air incursion a day earlier. He refuses to answer questions about his hometown and exact job.

Prior to Tuesday's attack, which India said killed more than 300 people in a Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp inside Pakistan, New Delhi had detained more than 150 people mainly linked to a local separatist group and boosted its military presence in the region, according to news reports.

Following the aerial incident Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan signalled his willingness to "sit down and talk" the situation through.

The French foreign minister said it is closely monitoring the situation and called Pakistan and India to de-escalate.

Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor says Pakistani troops on ground captured the Indian pilot.

"In the aerial engagement, a Pakistan fighter aircraft was shot down by a MiG-21 Bison".

The cause of the crash is still unknown.

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Military standoffs or escalations between India and Pakistan are not new, nor is the use of military means to settle scores.

The raids follow a militant attack in Kashmir which killed 40 Indian troops.

Pakistani officials have said the airstrikes were carried out a day after Indian warplanes struck inside Pakistan for the first time since a war in 1971.

Narendra Modi, India's prime minister, left, attends the Gandhi Peace Prize award ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday, February 26, 2019.

In the wake of the Indian air raids, Pakistan also activated the LoC with heavy shelling, a strategy used before by the two countries during heightened tensions.

Facing a general election due by May, Modi is under substantial pressure after blaming Pakistan for the worst attack on security forces in Kashmir in several decades earlier this month.

The Pakistani foreign office also released a statement saying that the air force "undertook strikes" across the border, known as the Line of Control, on Wednesday - however it did not elaborate on what it meant by "strikes" and did not mention shooting down planes.

The Indians disputed Pakistan's account, claiming its forces responded defensively to more than a dozen instances of heavy weapons fire from Pakistani forces into Indian territory that wounded five Indian soldiers. On Wednesday New Zealand's foreign minister Winston Peters also voiced concern over the escalation in tensions.

He added that the action Pakistan has taken is in "self defence".

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