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On the 26th, Indian warplanes entered Pakistani airspace and claimed that the purpose was to combat terrorist organizations in response to previous terrorist attacks on Indian police in Kashmir. Pakistan condemned the move and said it reserved the right to fight back at any time and place. Indian officials say at least three Pakistani fighter jets entered Kashmir on the 27th and were later intercepted by Indian troops. According to Pakistan's "Dawn" news, the Pakistani military said that in Kashmir, two Indian aircraft were shot down, an Indian pilot was captured.


India and Pakistan are in the throes of the most serious military standoff between them since 2002. After years of absorbing terror attacks conceived by non-state groups based on Pakistani soil, India decided enough was enough after a February 14 vehicle-borne improvised explosive device killed forty paramilitary personnel. its response? An airstrike on what it claimed was a camp run by Jaish-e-Mohammed, the group that claimed the attack, on Pakistani soil.


On Wednesday, Pakistani escalation followed across the Line of Control after Pakistan Air Force F-16s conducted strikes of their own. Both sides again presented battling narratives about what sort of targets were struck, with Pakistan trying to make clear that its response was proportional retaliation for India’s strikes. An Indian official statement, meanwhile, stated that while the Pakistani fighters targeted “military installations,” they had been “foiled successfully.”

星期三,巴基斯坦空军F -16战机进行了他们自己的攻击后,巴基斯坦越过控制线,局势升级。双方再次就袭击了哪些目标展开了激烈的争论,巴基斯坦试图表明,它的回应是对印度袭击的适当报复。与此同时,印度发表的一份官方声明说,尽管巴基斯坦武装分子以“军事设施”为目标,但他们“成功将其挫败了”。

One complicating factor was the loss of Indian aircraft in the exchange on Wednesday. One Indian Air Force pilot, forced to ditch his MiG-21 fighter, was taken into Pakistani custody. Pakistan’s military released footage showing the pilot in good health—presumably to ward off criticisms that had followed of the mistreatment of Indian pilots during the 1999 Kargil War.
The Indian acknowledgment that Pakistan targeted “military installations” in retaliation for New Delhi’s calibrated “non-military” strike will increase pressure on the Indian government to now retaliate in turn. That’d make a third round of escalation, raising the possibility of an all-out spiral that’d quickly risk taking the two countries close to the low nuclear threshold that exists between them thanks to Pakistan’s aggressive nuclear strategy and battlefield nuclear weapons.


Other possible avenues by which the crisis may be de-escalated include the intervention of third powers. The United States is distracted with the ongoing summitry in Hanoi, Vietnam, and China and Russia are each seen as too partisan to Pakistan and India respectively. Numerous nations have issued statements calling on both sides to practice restraint, in the meantime.
Whatever happens next rests in the hands of political decisionmakers in India. This conflict can find an off-ramp, but it must come quickly. Above all, national strategy cannot be allowed to fall victim to the passions of domestic constituencies all too eager to march toward a ruinous and likely uncontrollable war, assuming it will remain under the nuclear threshold.