Indian confirms one pilot missing and claims it shot down one Pakistani jet on day of skirmishes
Pakistan has conducted airstrikes over the ceasefire line in disputed Kashmir and claims to have shot down two Indian jets that responded by entering Pakistani airspace, capturing both of the pilots, The Guardian reports.
India confirmed that one of its pilots is missing in action and said it shot down one of the Pakistani jets as it escaped over the heavily militarised border separating the two.
The skirmishes, a day after India flew sorties into Pakistan for the first time in nearly 50 years, are steep escalations in the most serious military crisis in south Asia since the pair fought a brief war in the Himalayas in 1999.
Imran Khan, the Pakistani prime minister, used a televised address to call for dialogue to prevent more reprisals, making reference to both countries’ nuclear arsenals.Advertisement
“With the weapons you have and the weapons we have, can we afford miscalculation?” Khan said. “Shouldn’t we think that, if this escalates, what will it lead to?”
Pakistan has released footage purportedly showing one of the captured Indian pilots, a wing commander who gave his name as Abhinandan. His uniform was bloody and a rag was tied around his head. He gave his name, service number, rank and religion, but when asked for more, replied: “I’m sorry sir, that’s all I’m supposed to tell you.”
The country’s armed forces spokesman Major-General Asif Ghafoor said one pilot was being interrogated and the second was injured and being treated in hospital.
India said it was aware that Pakistani had claimed to have one pilot in its custody. “We are ascertaining the facts,” the spokesman for India’s foreign ministry, Raveesh Kumar, told journalists in Delhi.
The dogfights on Wednesday morning – the first publicly acknowledged between the two countries since 1971 – have shut down commercial flights across Pakistan and north India. Flight radar images showed deserted airspace over both countries. All commercial airports in Pakistan have been shut along with eight major Indian airports including those in Jammu city, Srinagar and Amritsar.
In Srinagar, the capital of disputed Kashmir, a work crew could be seen painting a large red cross on the top of Shri Maharaja Hari Singh hospital, marking it out as a medical facility from above.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday morning that it had struck “non-military target[s]” across the ceasefire line in Kashmir without entering Indian airspace to demonstrate its “right, will and capability for self defence”.
“We have no intention of escalation, but are fully prepared to do so if forced into that paradigm,” said Mohammad Faisal, the foreign affairs ministry’s spokesman.
Ghafoor told a media briefing on Wednesday afternoon Pakistan struck six targets on the Indian side of the ceasefire line, ensuring they kept a safe distance away from civilian, administrative or military sites.