Update 2: Pakistan is now saying that only one Indian pilot is in custody...and India has confirmed that only one pilot is missing. Meanwhile, there have been reports of "heavy exchange of fire" in multiple areas along the border.
Regarding the detained pilot, India's Ministry of External Affairs has lodged a "strong protest" after summoning Pakistan's deputy high commissioner. In a statement, India accused Pakistan of violating the Geneva Convention by shooting down its planes, and said that it expects the "safe return" of the detained pilot.
#BREAKING: Pakistan demarched on the act of aggression against India. India also strongly objected to the vulgar display of an injured personnel of the Indian Air Force in violation of all norms of International Humanitarian Law & Geneva Convention. India expects his safe return. pic.twitter.com/bhwef7g6hT— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) February 27, 2019
Theresa May took a break from the ongoing Brexit negotiations to "urge restraint" in the conflict, according to Reuters.
Update and recap: After some initial confusion and conflicting statements about the number of aircraft involved in Wednesday's hostilities, Bloomberghas produced this roundup of remarks from both sides that helps to clear things up.
- Indian and Pakistani fighter jets engaged each other, resulting in the worst escalation since the war between the two in 1971.
- Pakistan said it engaged six targets across the de facto border between the nuclear-armed neighbors. Pakistan said its fighter planes shot down two Indian fighter aircraft that entered its airspace. Two Indian pilots were in its custody, one of them in hospital.
- India admitted to losing one MiG 21 fighter jet in the aerial engagement. India's Kumar said the pilot of the plane is "missing in action," and the government is ascertaining Pakistan's claim of their custody. India said it shot down a Pakistani fighter jet today.
- Pakistan PM Imran Khan in his address to the nation sounded conciliatory, saying he was willing to investigate the Feb. 14 terror attack in Kashmir. He said a war won't be in his or in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's control and called for a dialogue between the two.
- China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi called for India and Pakistan to exercise restraint and offered to play a "constructive role," while U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the two nations to "avoid escalation at any cost."
Indian paramilitary forces clashed with Kashmir militants in India-controlled Kashmir on Wednesday. Two militants were killed. One analyst told Bloomberg that we are now in "unprecedented territory."
"This is unprecedented territory - we haven’t had tit-for-tat air strikes between India and Pakistan since the 1971 war," said Anit Mukherjee, a former Indian Army major and assistant professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, by phone. "We don’t know what will come from this. But it seems like Pakistan has given a response. And there have been casualties -- captures, deaths."
The eruption of open conflict was a surprise as both sides had been seeking to deescalate the conflict only hours before. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo encouraged both sides to "exercise restraint, and avoid escalation at any cost." He noted that Pakistan’s priority was to avoid military action and take "meaningful action against terrorist groups operating on its soil."
Pakistan has sought help from the UN to dial back the tensions, while India - which is facing a major election in the coming weeks - has reportedly reached out to the US, UK, China, France and Russia.
As we pointed out yesterday, while the Indian military enjoys vast tactical superiority over Pakistan's, at least as far as conventional weapons are concerned, the Pakistani nuclear doctrine allows for the use of tactical nuclear weapons in a preemptive or offensive attack.
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