Multiple outlets around the world have reported the Indian Air Force violated airspace along the Line of Control (LoC) late on Monday night. Major General Asif Ghafoor, spokesperson for the Pakistan Armed Forces quickly took to Twitter.
Pakistan’s Military Response
Indian Air Force violated Line of Control. Pakistan Air Force immediately scrambled. Indian aircrafts gone back. Details to follow.
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— DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) February 25, 2019
Indian aircrafts intruded from Muzafarabad sector. Facing timely and effective response from Pakistan Air Force released payload in haste while escaping which fell near Balakot. No casualties or damage.
— DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) February 26, 2019
“The Indian news media, quoting local military officials, said Indian Mirage 2000 fighter jets dropped bombs on a terrorist camp in Pakistan-controlled territory at 3:30 a.m. local time,” New York Times reported in their coverage of the incident. “Jets from Pakistan confronted the Indian aircraft, and no casualties or damage were reported, General Ghafoor said. The planes had dropped the bombs near Balakot, which is close to the disputed border of India and Pakistan.”
According to reports, this is the first time in years either India or Pakistan has crossed the LoC with warplanes — despite routine shelling against one another.
Major Ghafoor would return to Twitter with photographs of the Indian bombing attempt.
Payload of hastily escaping Indian aircrafts fell in open. pic.twitter.com/8drYtNGMsm
— DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) February 26, 2019
“Indian aircrafts’ intrusion across LOC in Muzafarabad Sector within AJ&K was 3-4 miles. Under forced hasty withdrawal aircrafts released payload which had free fall in open area. No infrastructure got hit, no casualties. Technical details and other important information to follow,” he would state in his latest tweet as of the drafting of this article. It’s likely the bombing attempts are in response to the February 14th Pulwama attack which India has blamed the government of Pakistan for encouraging. A charge Pakistan strongly denies.
India’s Military Response
12 Mirage 2000 jets took part in the operation that dropped 1,000 kg bombs on a terror camp across the Line of Control, completely destroying it, reports news agency ANI quoting Air Force sources.
— NDTV (@ndtv) February 26, 2019
“The terror camps in Balakot, Chakothi and Muzaffarabad, capital of PoK [Pakistan occupied Kahmir], were struck by 12 Mirage 2000 jets with 1,000 kg of explosives at around 3:30 am,” an Indian Air Force (IAF) source told ANI. “The targets included the control rooms of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) outfit which carried out terror attack [sic] on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir on February 14th…the JeM control room was completely destroyed,” the IAF source added.
ANI would also report that hours after the bombing raid, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting of his Cabinet Committee to review the situation. His Defense, Finance, Hom, and External Affairs Ministers were all present, along with his National Security Advisor.
Will Tensions Between India And Pakistan Escalate?
Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, could use the incident as an attempt to play peacemaker between the two countries he just recently paid a visit, striking business deals with each. As he attempts to rebuild his image after his role in the Jammal Khashoggi murder, it would make logical sense for Saudi Arabia to urge peace between the nations — especially when the Saudi royal family has a large financial stake with both regional powers.
However, with Pakistan reporting they were free of casualties they may restrain from sending jets across the LoC and further escalating an already tense situation. With economic ties to China and Saudi Arabia due to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), requests of restraint from either country would also likely prevent a military response from Pakistan and Prime Minister Imran Khan. The next week will be critical in the long-term relationship between the two nations.