UK, Iran, EU and USA urge India, Pakistan to de-escalate tensions as fears grow of all-out conflict.
PKONWEB Report (New York/Islamabad) — Tensions between Pakistan and India escalated Wednesday when the Pakistan air force (PAF) shot down two Indian fighter jets after they entered national airspace, authorities said.
Pakistan military’s spokesman Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor said the two jets were downed after they had crossed the line of control between the two nations — one crashing into Pakistan-controlled territory of Kashmir and the other into Indian occupied territory of the Himalayan valley.
“One Indian pilot arrested by troops on ground,” Ghafoor said in a tweet. Ghafoor later said two pilots were in custody.
India’s foreign ministry said it was missing a MiG21 fighter and its pilot. Pakistan’s information ministry tweeted a video of one of the pilots. He identified himself as Wing-Commander Abhinandan.
India said it’s still “ascertaining the facts” of what happened to the second jet.
Islamabad said it “undertook strikes across the line of control within Pakistani airspace” on “non-military targets, avoiding human loss and collateral damage.”
The purpose of the attack was to demonstrate its right to self-defense, it said.
“We have no intention of escalation, but are fully prepared to do so if forced into that paradigm. That is why we undertook the action with clear warning and in broad daylight,” Pakistan’s foreign affairs ministry said in a statement.
The development came a day after the country’s civil and military leadership declared the violation of airspace by Indian fighter jets “uncalled for aggression” and decided that the country would respond at the “time and place of its choosing”.
Later in the morning, Pakistani premier Khan spoke on TV and again invited India for dialogue to avoid mistakes leading to disaster in the region, stressing better sense should prevail.
“Let’s think sensibly. All wars in the world have been started on miscalculations on the time and the human cost of war. This was the same with the First World War, with the Second World War, the war on terror, the Vietnam War. The history of the world shows us wars have always been miscalculation,” he asserted.
“I ask India; with our weapons capability…. on both sides, can we afford a miscalculation? It will neither be in my control or Modi’s. The hurt that has been caused due to the Pulwama attack, we want to come to the table and talk about terrorism that affects us both. We are ready. Let better sense prevail,” the Pakistani premier urged.
Later in the day, the international community weighed in urging Pakistan and India to exercise restraint and refrain from escalating tensions.
“The UK is deeply concerned about rising tensions between India and Pakistan and urgently calls for restraint on both sides to avoid further escalation,” Reuters quoted British PM Theresa May as saying in the parliament.
She said the UK was in contact with both countries and was urging dialogue and diplomatic solutions to ensure regional stability.
“We are working closely with international partners including through the UN Security Council to de-escalate tensions.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke on Wednesday on phone with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and offered mediation between India and Pakistan, Reuters reported.
Zarif urged both countries to practice restraint, the semi-official news agency ISNA reported. ISNA said Zarif is going to speak to his Indian counterpart as well, but did not specify any date.
European Union diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini called on India and Pakistan to show the “utmost restraint” in their worsening confrontation as fears grow of all-out conflict between the nuclear-armed rivals, AFP reported.
“This has the potential to lead to serious and dangerous consequences for the two countries and the wider region. We expect both countries to now exercise utmost restraint and avoid any further escalation of the situation,” European Union diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said.
The US said the risks of further military action by India and Pakistan are unacceptably high, a US White House National Security Council official said on Wednesday following rising tensions between the two countries.
“The potential risks associated with further military action by either side are unacceptably high for both countries, there neighbors, and the international community,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
“The United States is deeply concerned about rising tensions between India and Pakistan and calls on both sides to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation.”