India and Pakistan have chosen a catastrophic way to deal with each other. Indian Air Force fighter planes, early Tuesday morning, intruded into Pakistan territory and bombed what they called “terror” camps of Jais-e-Mohammad militant outfit in Balakot area of Khyber Pakhtoonwa province. Media reports say 12 Mirage-2000 jets with laser-guided bombs were used by Indian Air Force. The laser guided bombs are built with Israeli technology and were first used in Kargil. The air strike happened around 3.30 am. Pakistan has confirmed the IAF strike but said no casualties or damage was caused. Major General Asif Ghafoor, spokesperson Pakistan Armed Forces, in a post on his official Twitter account, stated that the Indian Air Force violated Line of Control. Pakistani Air Force “immediately scrambled”, causing the Indian planes to return to their country. “Facing timely and effective response from Pakistan Air Force released payload in haste while escaping which fell near Balakot. No casualties or damage”, he said.
The strike comes almost two weeks after a suicide attack killed 40 CRPF troopers in Pulwama in south Kashmir that raised tensions between India and Pakistan. Jaish-e-Mohammad militant outfit had claimed responsibility for the attack. India put the blame directly on Pakistan and alleged that Jaish was a private militant outlet of Pakistan army and ISI. The suicide bombing had led to calls for punitive strikes against Pakistan for “harbouring” Jaish. Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured his countrymen of ‘revenge’ saying “army has been given a free hand. They will decide the nature and timing of action”. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who had warned of retaliation to Indian army’s any adventure, has called an emergency meeting of the country’s high powered security committee. Indian cabinet committee on security is also in huddle to take stock of the situation in the wake of the air strike and possible response of Pakistan. This has brought the two countries to the brink of war. Both the countries are presently in war gear and the situation can take any turn.
India and Pakistan are nuclear countries and war between them could not be expected to remain to the conventional ways only. With India having edge in conventional war, Pakistan cannot be expected to restrict itself to conventional ways only. Pakistan has time and again said that they would defend the country with whatever possible means even if it meant use of nuclear weapons. Islamabad recently launched a dangerous weapon to its artillery Nasre-2, a short-range nuclear guided missile to offset the supremacy of India in conventional war. It should be a cause of worry for the entire people of the south Asia in particular and the world in general that any such move could lead to a full-fledged nuclear war. How catastrophic it could be is not difficult to understand. The international community appears too indifferent to threatening bickering between the two nuclear powers of south Asia. It needs some urgent and out-of-box initiative to bring India and Pakistan back on dialogue track. United Nations can do this if the big powers, more particularly, the United States wished to shun its market-driven policies towards India and Pakistan. It is right time for United Nations to step in and put pressure on the two countries to end the hostilities and start the dialogue process to resolve the problems for ever in the best interest of the peace.
There is also need for honest internal appraisal, both, by India and Pakistan of what they can do to regain the lost track of peace and dialogue process. Prime Ministers of the two countries need to rise above the internal political compulsions in the interest of their people.