Saturday, March 2, 2019

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India’s Retaliatory Strikes On Pakistan Signals End To ‘Risk Aversion’ Strategies – Analysis

By Dr Subhash Kapila
India with its pre-emptive Indian Air Force strikes on Pakistani terrorist bases on February 26 2019 marks a significant signal under PM Modi’s leadership that India has finally dispensed with its ‘Risk Aversion Strategies’ and will not shirk upholding India’s ‘National Honour’ in face of repetitive provocations by India’s military adversaries- Pakistan to be more precise in instant case.
Dispensing with ‘Risk Aversion Strategies’’ followed by past Prime Ministers could not have been an easy decision for the Indian Prime Minister as it has in attendance the challenges of Pakistan climbing the  ‘Escalation Ladder’ in response. But should that deter India which today counts geopolitically high in global power calculus be deterred by Pakistan’s constant needling.
Pakistan has in the past been emboldened by the political timidity of past Prime Ministers and also countries like China presently and the United States in the past ego-massaging of the Generals in Pak Army HQs in Rawalpindi that Pakistan is the ‘Strategic Equivalent’ of India. In the process India’s ‘National Honour’ was being besmirched by Pakistan with impunity.
At this significant turning point in India’s history of upholding India’s ‘National Honour’  a quote of Major General J F C Fuller of1923 which I used in my Book ‘India’s Defence Policies & Strategic Thought: A Comparative Analysis”92004)  needs to repeated to drive home this point. Abridging the quote in my book, a relevant portion applicable today, makes thoughtful reading:
  “There is only one balsam which can make peace worth living—Honour, which is righteousness….Peace without honour is degradation… will an upright nation because of its honour, not only protect but sacrifice itself for righteousness cause. All may be lost save honour, for without honour, mankind ceases to exist”.
India had literally ceased to exist with its ‘National Honour’ singed by Pakistan and China by their repeated military provocations. Pakistan revelled in the myth that it could not be expended by China or United States because of its strategic utility to both these nations because of tactical political expediencies.
India has by its strikes signalled that it will no longer be a passive spectator to military provocations by its adversaries whatever the costs. Surely, the Modi Government and the defence establishment would have worked out the contingencies that would arise from the instant decision.
India’s upholding its ‘National Honour’ is not the sole responsibility of the Government and the Indian Armed Forces. It is also the duty of all Opposition Parties and the media o do likewise and not displays political fissures emerging from the politicking of Elation Year campaigns.
Some are already visible. Opposition leaders have gone all out to extoll the Indian Air Force valour for political correctness but have not one word of appreciation for PM Modi’s display of POLITICAL WILL. Surely, the Indian Air Force proceeded with the strikes against Pakistan on orders of the Government of the day determined that the moment had arrived when India’s ‘National Honour; can no longer be trifled with by Pakistan.
Similarly, some TV anchors have started disputing the damage estimates arising from the strikes. This is immaterial as to what matters are the exercise of India’s ‘Political Will to Uphold India’s National Honour” and that rich symbolism cannot be drowned in statistical debates.
India, and I believe, the vast majority of the Indian people going by visuals and media reports stand by the Government in dispensing with the ‘risk Aversion Strategies’ of past Governments, including BJP first government tenure
Within India, it needs to be appreciated that for the first time a Pakistani Prime Minister, PM Imran Khan was directly intervening in India’s domestic politics and elections by publicly asserting that Pakistan could wait for India’s Elections My 2019 and its outcome.  Implicit in Pak PM Imran Khan’s public statement was the hope that India would vote-out PM Modi in the coming General Elections.
What makes PM Imran Khan lead to such conclusion? Obviously, the fractitiouos Opposition parties electioneering campaign politicising national security issues and defence acquisitions rather than concentrating on  finding faults with the Government’s shortfalls in providing effective governance.
Added to this was the distortion of India’s political landscape by visits of some Opposition political worthies to Lahore and making discordant noises giving political mileage to Pakistan’s propaganda and fostering or perpetuating the myth that India was a divided house and that Pakistan could have a free run to indulge in its favourite pastime of ‘Bleeding India’ through Jihadi affiliates of Pakistan Army. The JeM suicide bombing at Pulwama on February 14 2019 killing 44 CRPF soldiers was the latest such provocation and that led to this Indian Air Force strike within Pakistan as a retaliatory response.
Having taken the first measured and deliberate military step in climbing the ‘Escalation Ladder’ with Pakistan we need to be alert and vigilant to ward off any ripostes cooing from Pakistan, and which it will compulsively do so.
India had put Pakistan on notice when in 2016 PM Modi authorised the first ‘surgical strikes’ by Indian Army Special forces in the wake of Uri attacks on Indian Army base. Pakistan did not pay heed to this witnessing the immediate politicisation by Indian Opposition Parties.
The Prime Minister immediately after Pulwama suicide attack by Jem operating from its HQs in Bahawalpur adjacent to Pakistan Army Corps Headquarters had given enough notice to Pakistan that a strong retaliation was coming for such military adventurism. Once again Pakistan felt secure that India would be shackled as before by its traditional policies of ‘Risk Aversion’ of past Prime Ministers.
India in 2019 is not the India of earlier decades of not following up rhetoric with action with sharp retaliatory actions as it happened in Mumbai 26/11 when the Congress Government was in power.. The present Indian Modi Government is strongly backed by Indian public opinion incensed with Pakistan’s repeated terrorists attacks and suicide bombings and demanding that Pakistan’s military adventurism be tamed or deterred.
Since Pakistan had commenced attacks targeting Indian Army bases and security forces convoys’ Indian public opinion against Pakistan was  more vociferous. That combined with PM Modi’s POLITICAL WILL to not allow India’s ‘National Honour’ be sullied impelled P Modi to order these IAF retaliatory strikes against Pakistan-based Jihad terrorist infrastructure.
Unlike the past, this time around, even in the wake of Pulwama suicide bombings, international support in terms of condemnation of Pakistan for not reining in Jihadi terrorists attacks against its neighbours was vocal. President Trump was on record castigating Pakistan on this issue. US National Security Advisers Bolton is also on record that India had the “right of self defense” against Pakistan-based terrorism provocations.
Also, the UN Security Council Permanent members with exception of China have expressed their determination to not let China again shield JeM chief Azhar Masood from being designated as ‘global terrorist’ by the UN.
No doubt the above factors were factored-in by the Modi Government in its calculations when it took the fateful decision of ordering IAF strikes within Pakistan on JeM terrorist launch pads and bases. Also would have been factored-in was the remote likelihood of a reckless opting by Pakistan for the nuclear option—-highly unlikely though.
In Conclusion, all that is required to be stated and emphasised is that India has signalled its intention of dispensing with past policies of ‘Risk Aversion’ so far shackling India’s audacious responses and retaliation against Pakistan military provocations. It is upto Pakistan’s strategic patrons to advise Pakistan for restraint and it is upto Pakistan and specifically its Army Generals that India has awakened to forcefully retaliate against Pakistani military provocations, or for that matter from any other quarter also.

Don’t let border tensions hamper trade: UN & World Bank economists to India, Pakistan

India's decision to withdraw the MFN status from Pakistan would boost informal trade, that is, smuggling & corruption, UN & World Bank experts said.

Economists from the United Nations (UN) and the World Bank have advised India and Pakistan against letting border tensions hamper their trade relationship.
“There are tensions between India and China (as well) but the business is kept out of the political or border problems,” said Dr Nagesh Kumar, director of social development division at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.
“Adopting the same ideology, India should not hamper the bilateral trade relationship with Pakistan,” he added, speaking to ThePrint on the sidelines of a recently-concluded summit on the “Benefits of South Asia Economic Integration”, held in Dubai between 24 and 27 February.
“Irrespective of the present trade value with Pakistan, we must consider the potential of trade growth — which is at least ten times more than the present trade value,” said Kumar.
As reported earlier by ThePrint, at present, India exports $1.92 billion (approx. Rs 13,695 crore) worth of goods to Pakistan, while the imports from that country are worth $4.88 million (approx. Rs 34.8 crore), according to data from the ministry of commerce and industry.
Sanjay Kathuria, the lead economist at World Bank’s South Asia Regional Cooperation and Integration Unit, echoed the concern, pointing out that barriers in trade between India and Pakistan were evident in the fact that “it is 18 percentage points cheaper for India to trade with Brazil (in South America) than with Pakistan (its immediate neighbour)”.
“India and Pakistan have regimes that discriminate against each other, which is evident from the negative list both countries maintain,” he added, addressing the audience at the summit via video link.
“Pakistan maintains a list with around 1,209 items that cannot be imported from India whereas India maintains a negative list of around 600 items,” said Kathuria.
Quoting a World Bank report, ‘Glass Half Full: Promise of Regional Trade in South Asia’, of which he is the lead author, Kathuria said: “The trade between the two countries, which stands at around $2 billion, could go up to $37 billion if they worked through their differences.”

Withdrawal of MFN status flagged

India and Pakistan, whose ties have never been smooth, are currently locked in one of the most tense phases of their relationship.
Last month, the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed responsibility for one of the worst terror attacks ever perpetrated on Indian soil — the 14 February strike on a CRPF convoy that killed 40 personnel in Kashmir.
India, which has repeatedly called Pakistan out for harbouring terrorists, subsequently launched a campaign to isolate Islamabad diplomatically, and also revoked the ‘most favoured nation (MFN)’ status granted to Islamabad.
The MFN status is accorded by a country to valued partners to boost non-discriminatory bilateral trade. At the Dubai summit, economists pointed out that India’s decision to withdraw the MFN status would boost informal trade — that is, smuggling and corruption — via Dubai and Singapore.
“A significant chunk of trade between both countries is already happening through a third country — mostly Dubai and Singapore,” Kumar said.
“With the latest move of snatching MFN status, informal trade through a third country will get a major boost,” he added.
“Currently,” Kumar said, “the amount of total trade (formal and informal) between India and Pakistan is approximately around $6 billion. The worth of formal trade stands equal to informal trade… Unless the political and trade environment improves, informal trade will only continue to coexist and is likely to increase in the coming years.”
“The move [to withdraw MFN status] would increase the cost of exports for Pakistan apart from increasing the discrimination (between both nations). More trade will be diverted to informal channels, mostly through Dubai and Singapore,” said Kathuria.

4 civilians killed after India, Pakistan trade fire on Kashmir border

Three Indian civilians and one Pakistani were killed in multiple ceasefire violations. Both countries have vowed to step back from the brink of war.
At least four civilians were killed and 11 injured on Saturday as Indian and Pakistani soldiers traded fire in the disputed Kashmir frontier region. The resumed fighting violated a temporary ceasefire put in place after a week of escalating unease at the border.
The dead included a 24-year-old woman and her two young children in India-administered Kashmir. Their father was also critically injured.
On the Pakistani side, officials said a boy died after heavy firing from Indian troops late on Friday night. Two Pakistani soldiers also died after an exchange of fire with Indian forces near the Line of Control that separates Indian and Pakistan-administered areas of Kashmir, the military said.
Despite the truce violations, the two neighbors appeared to step back from the brink on Saturday as India handed over the body of a Pakistani citizen killed in an Indian jail.
Indian inmates beat the man to death following the February 14 terrorist attack on Indian forces in Kashmir, according to Pakistan's foreign ministry. "India had failed to protect the Pakistani prisoner," Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qurehsi said.
The February 14 suicide attack killed 40 members of India's security forces. The latest round of tensions erupted after New Delhi accused Islamabad of harboring the Jaish-e-Mohammad terror group that claimed responsibility for the attack.
Return of Indian pilot
The return of the Pakistani prisoner's body came a day after Pakistan returned a captured Indian air force pilot whose plane was shot down and crashed in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir earlier this week.
The Pakistani government called it "a goodwill gesture aimed at de-escalating rising tensions with India."
Pakistan's military nevertheless said its air force and navy "continue to be alert and vigilant," but that it would respect the ceasefire. Kashmir has already been the site of two wars between India and Pakistan.

The Next India-Pakistan Crisis Will Be Worse

By Michael Kugelman
With both sides now willing to climb higher up the escalation ladder, a future nuclear exchange could become a far less remote prospect.
The last few days have been downright scary in South Asia.
India and Pakistan, the only two rivals in the world to be both neighbors and nuclear states, have suffered through their most serious crisis in nearly twenty years.
The crisis has featured multiple traumatic events that made escalation inevitable. Take the February 14 attack by Jaish-e-Mohammad, a Pakistan-based terror group, on Indian security personnel in India-administered Kashmir—one of the deadliest attacks on Indian forces in years. Consider India’s retaliatory strikes on Pakistan—launched not in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, but in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, further away from the border. And witness Pakistan’s decision to respond with its own strikes on Indian targets, and its capture of an Indian Air Force pilot.
Recent days, fortunately, suggest that de-escalation is approaching. Pakistan decided relatively quickly to release the captured Indian pilot—a gesture that reduces the likelihood of, but does not rule out, any further Indian uses of force in the immediate term.
Eventually, this crisis will end. However, when it does, both countries will have to acknowledge an inconvenient truth: fundamental realities on the ground—those that most aggrieve each side— will not have changed.First, the India-focused terrorists that New Delhi claims to have targeted in its strikes on Pakistan will continue to enjoy shelter from the Pakistani state. Islamabad will not have changed its policies toward them. On the contrary, in the aftermath of this crisis, an emboldened Islamabad—armed with a heightened awareness of its need to depend on assets that can push back against its Indian foe—may well embrace these actors more tightly.
Second, India’s position on the region of Kashmir it administers, which has long been claimed by Pakistan, will not have changed. New Delhi will still believe that there is nothing in dispute about the region, and that its status is settled and need not be renegotiated. And it will continue to use repressive tactics against local communities who despise the presence of the Indian state there.Indian security forces could well intensify these tactics under the guise of counterterrorism; the militant who staged the attack in Kashmir last month was a local resident. Such measures would undoubtedly galvanize Kashmiris even more. The violent crackdowns that New Delhi may describe as counterterrorism will be—and already are—depicted by many Kashmiris and Pakistanis as Indian state terrorism.
Islamabad is destined to double down on its dependence on terrorist assets. And New Delhi is destined to double down on its repressive ways in Kashmir.
In effect, after the crisis abates, India and Pakistan are likely to step up activities that sharpen each side’s core grievances—thereby paving the way for fresh tensions and a new crisis.
All this said, the crisis has yielded a new normal of sorts.
For the first time, both sides have signaled, as nuclear states, that they are willing and able to rain missiles down on each other’s territory, and in India’s case in areas well beyond the contested border.
There are positive takeaways here for both countries. New Delhi has telegraphed its willingness to act preemptively in areas beyond Pakistan-administered Kashmir when it feels threatened by Pakistan-based terrorism.
True, the details surrounding the Indian operation are murky; on-the-ground media reports (including from Al Jazeera and Reuters) suggest that Indian claims of more than 300 terrorists killed and large-scale destruction of terrorist facilities may be exaggerated.
Still, issues surrounding the targeting of the strike are less important than the geography: New Delhi has signaled it will no longer restrict itself to strikes along the border. And that can’t be a reassuring thought for Pakistan.Meanwhile, Pakistan has demonstrated that while its conventional military power may not be as formidable as that of India’s, it is still perfectly capable of matching India’s own moves. In this regard, Pakistan has defied the naysayers in India and elsewhere who were skeptical that the Pakistanis would mount a military response to India’s operation. Islamabad has proven that it won’t be deterred if India resorts to a type of military action in Pakistan that hadn’t been deployed since the early 1970s, many years before either country went nuclear.For these reasons, both Islamabad and New Delhi can claim victory and conclude the crisis was worth sweating through—even though fundamental realities about terrorism and Kashmir have not changed.Still, at the end of the day, Pakistan and India will have merely given each other bloody noses, and otherwise emerged unscathed. This has some unsettling longer-term implications.
In effect, for India to have a greater chance of achieving the goals that couldn’t be achieved during the current crisis, it will need to escalate its tactics. If New Delhi wants to pressure Pakistan into rethinking its decision to provide support to India-focused terrorists, then it will need to turn to measures more muscular than a few airstrikes. Likewise, if Islamabad wants to pressure India into rethinking its policies in Kashmir, it too will need to turn to something more aggressive than a few airstrikes.
The upshot? With India and Pakistan having demonstrated they are comfortable engaging in increasingly provocative uses of military force under the nuclear umbrella, they will have an incentive in the future to go up a few more rungs on the escalatory ladder to try to achieve goals that couldn’t be achieved further down that ladder.
Regardless of whether they succeed or fail, this much is true: With both sides now willing to climb higher up the escalation ladder, a future nuclear exchange could become a far less remote prospect.

Coverage of India-Pakistan crisis by mainstream media is strangely objective. What's going on?

Simon Rite 

I've been trying to make up my mind about how concerned I should be about events in Kashmir, nothing causes pause for thought like two nuclear powers launching airstrikes against one another.
There's something about the human mind, or at least mine, which causes it to immediately jump to the worst case scenario, especially when it's fuelled by ignorance.
So, this is what my brain does when it hears that India and Pakistan have been firing missiles at each other and shooting each other's planes out of the sky.
First it accesses everything it knows about the situation in Kashmir, which can be summed up as "India and Pakistan don't like each other very much, and they both have nuclear missiles."
My imagination then uses that information to form a conclusion, which in this case is "we'll probably all be vaporised by Monday lunchtime."
Even for me that conclusion seemed a little extreme, so I thought I might dive into the details a little bit more, see if I could work out what was actually going on before cancelling the appointments I had for Tuesday. At the very least I wanted to know who I should be blaming if anyone started pushing me for an opinion. I find acquiring opinions much more convenient than forming them.
However, the general coverage of this possible nuclear confrontation has confused me. Most broadcast outlets and newspapers (newspapers are like paper versions of websites, ask your grandad about them) did cover the story, and most mentioned quite high up in their coverage the potential for nuclear catastrophe, so that was reassuring.
However, hardly anyone in the mainstream media that I could find had it as a lead story until Friday, when Pakistan shot down a couple of Indian fighter jets and it had become hard to ignore.
I took solace in the fact that in the eyes of much of the commentariat, a disastrous nuclear confrontation didn't seem as important as Donald Trump's disgraced former lawyer calling him names, or that Brexit, erm, something about Brexit.  
Paradoxically negotiations in Vietnam over North Korea's nuclear programme that probably doesn't threaten much, beyond the underground caves it's tested in, dominated most headlines.
I fully understand that decision though, because even if I saw a mushroom cloud on the horizon, I would probably still be mainly thinking about the weird spectacle of Trump and Kim Jong Un negotiating on behalf of large parts of humanity.
Still, isn't it a little strange that the very real risk of actual nuclear war, possibly by the weekend, isn't the top headline everywhere?
Surely, I thought, there will be some juicy op-eds out there, accusing one side of geopolitical villainy. Again, I was to be disappointed, because when it came to an India-Pakistan confrontation there seemed to be an unlikely outbreak of objectivity.
To name just a few, the Times of London suggested both sides shared the blame, and so did the Telegraph. The New York Times decided to cover the story by decrying people using social media in times of tension. I combed the media (well, not the media in India and Pakistan where it was a different story) and I couldn't find anyone who was blatantly demonising just one side, or telling me who the good guys were and who the bad guys were. What was going on? This isn't the media I rely on!
Even world leaders seemed to have been chatting in their WhatsApp group about what they should say, and agreed they would all call for "restraint." That's it.  Everyone, the same word. The US and Iran, China and Britain.
And then I noticed a curious thing among the emerging details. There had been some confusion about what planes each side had been using in the tit-for-tat attacks on each other.  
There was speculation over whether India had used the planes it had bought from France or the ones it had bought from Russia. And whether Pakistan had used its US-made F-16s, or its Chinese jets.
And it all became clear! India and Pakistan are key allies of pretty much everyone apart from each other. India has lots of cash, and Pakistan has lots of access to extremely useful spy networks.
In a situation like this, it's really hard for the media to know who they're allowed to blame, governments aren't telling them who to demonize and that makes it hard for the usual invective to spew forth.
You won't struggle to find opinion pieces on who is to blame in Venezuela or Syria for example, but with Kashmir there has been a torrent of balanced factual reporting. Imagine that.
Objective reporting, a joint international call for restraint. This Kashmir crisis may hold important lessons for us all… if we're still here after Monday.

De-escalation delayed: India & Pakistan exchange shelling on Kashmir border, casualties reported

Just a day after an Indian pilot was freed from Pakistani captivity, offering hope for de-escalation, the two countries resumed shelling in Kashmir, killing a number of civilians on both sides, according to local authorities.
A 24-year-old woman and her two siblings were killed on Friday night near the Line of Control, a heavily militarized frontier that divides Pakistani and Indian parts of Kashmir. Another civilian was gravely injured in the shelling, NDTV reported, citing local police. 
Meanwhile, on the Pakistani side of the line, Indian artillery fire killed a boy and wounded three people, according to a government official. He told AP that the neighbor’s forces were “indiscriminately targeting border villagers,” and added that Pakistani troops were “befittingly” responding to the Indian artillery barrage.
In total, at least five civilians and 2 soldiers were killed in the attack, Al Jazeera reported.
The deadly shelling came despite some signs of a de-escalation in the latest crisis. On Friday, Pakistan released a captured Indian pilot in what its prime minister called a “peace gesture.”
After a dogfight over Kashmir on Wednesday morning, India initially said that all of its pilots had returned safely, but Pakistan’s Information Ministry then released – and later deleted – footage showing the pilot blindfolded, with blood on his face.
India then confirmed the loss of one of its MiG-21s and the capture of its pilot, but demanded that he be immediately released. It said that it had also foiled an attack by Pakistani warplanes over Kashmir, and shot down one Pakistani plane. Islamabad denies that any of its aircraft were shot down.
Pakistan and India have fought on several occasions over Kashmir since they gained independence from the British Empire in 1947. Each country controls a section of the territory, separated by one of the most militarized borders in the world, known as the Line of Control, which has seen frequent shelling and several short-term conflicts.

#Pakistan and #India step back from the brink, tensions simmer

Abu Arqam Naqash, Fayaz Bukhari
A flare up between arch-foes India and Pakistan appeared to be easing on Saturday after Islamabad handed back a captured Indian pilot, but tensions continued to simmer amid efforts by global powers to prevent a war between the nuclear-armed neighbors
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who became the face and symbol of the biggest clash between India and Pakistan in many years, walked across the border just before 9 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Friday in a high-profile handover shown on live television.
Shelling across the Line of Control (LoC) that acts as a de facto border in the disputed Kashmir region, a frequent feature in recent weeks, continued on Saturday.Pakistan’s military said on Saturday its air force and navy “continue to be alert and vigilant”, while two of its soldiers were killed after exchanging fire with Indian troops along the Line of Control. India’s military said on Saturday that Pakistan was firing mortar shells across the LoC.Pakistan touted Abhinandan’s return as “as a goodwill gesture aimed at de-escalating rising tensions with India” after weeks of unease that threatened to spiral into war after both countries used jets for bombing missions this week.
Global powers, including China and the United States, have urged restraint to prevent another conflict between the neighbors who have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947.Tensions escalated rapidly following a suicide car bombing on Feb. 14 that killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police in Indian-controlled Kashmir.India accused Pakistan of harboring the Jaish-e Mohammad group behind the attack, which Islamabad denied, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised a strong response.
Indian warplanes carried out air strikes on Tuesday inside Pakistan on what New Delhi called militant camps. Islamabad denied any such camps existed, as did local villagers in the area, but Pakistan retaliated on Wednesday with its own aerial mission, that led to both sides claiming to have shot down jets.The stand off came at a critical time for Modi, who faces a general election that must be held by May and who had been expected to benefit from nationalist pride unleashed by the standoff.
Pakistani leaders say the ball is now in India’s court to de-escalate the tensions, though the Pakistani army chief told top military leaders of the United States, Britain and Australia on Friday that his country would “surely respond to any aggression in self-defense”.
The Indian pilot’s ordeal since being shot down on Wednesday had made him the focal point of the crisis and he returned to his homeland to a hero’s welcome, with crowds thronging the Wagah border crossing and waving Indian flags.
Before his release, Pakistani television stations broadcast video of Abhinandan in which he thanked the Pakistani army for saving him from an angry crowd who chased him after seeing him parachute to safety.“The Pakistani army is a very professional service,” he said. “I have spent time with the Pakistan army. I am very impressed.”
On Friday, four Indian troops and one civilian were killed in a clash with militants in the Indian-administered Kashmir, where a further three people were killed and one wounded from Pakistani shelling.
Pakistan’s military said two civilians were killed and two wounded since Friday afternoon on Pakistan’s side of Kashmir from a barrage of Indian shelling.
In a sign of the unease, residents say they are afraid another conflagration is likely.
“The way situation is developing along the LoC makes me feel that both sides may collide head-on anytime now,” said Chaudhry Jahangir , a Pakistani resident of the Samahni sector in Kashmir.

#pulwamaattacks - Pakistan Didn’t Violate the Geneva Convention, It Confirmed Its Adherence to It

After suffering a humiliating military defeat on the morning of 27 February when Pakistan shot down two of its MiGs that violated the country’s airspace and even captured one of its pilots, India went wild trying to distract its population by switching the subject of discussion to allegations that Islamabad violated the Geneva Convention of 1949 by airing footage of the captured pilot, but in reality Pakistan actually confirmed its adherence to this cornerstone of international law and simultaneously contributed to de-escalating the worst military crisis with its nuclear-armed neighbor since their 1971 war almost half a century ago.
A Desperate Distraction To Cover Up A Military Defeat
Pakistan Turned The Latest Bollywood ‘Surgical Strike’ Flick Into Reality” on the morning of 27 February after it upheld the rules-based international order centered on the UN Charter’s principles about territorial integrity, sovereignty, and the right to defend oneself against aggression when it shot down two Indian MiGs that violated its airspace and even captured one of the pilots. This came as a total shock for the Mainstream Media-indoctrinated Indian masses who had mostly been convinced up until that point that Prime Minister Modi had “succeeded” in “putting Pakistan in its place” after “surgically striking” it on the unsubstantiated pretext that Islamabad was involved in the Pulwama attack. As the clichéd saying goes, “the truth hurts”, and the proverbial “bloody nose” that Pakistan gave India risked exposing the latter’s government-driven narrative as nothing more than pre-election propaganda for the incumbent BJP, which is why the state swiftly moved to distract the population as soon as possible.
Instead of taking responsibility for bringing the two nuclear-armed neighbors closer to all-out hostilities since any time after their 1971 war almost half a century ago and accepting the peacemaking overturesthat Pakistani Prime Minister Khan maturely extended to his counterpart from a position of strength, Indian media obsessed over spinning video footage of their captured pilot as an alleged violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949. According to their weaponized narrative, Pakistan broke its commitment to this international pact by releasing footage of the captive, which Indian commentators claim was in contravention to Article 13’s clause specifically mandating that “prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.” While it’s debatable whether the pilot is actually a true “prisoner of war” or not, the Director General of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations confirmed that he’ll be “treated as per norms of military ethics”.
See It With Your Own Eyes
The problem, Indian pundits say, is that the footage of the captured pilot being saved from a local mob by the militaryshown safely in custody, and then happily drinking tea supposedly made him a so-called “public curiosity” and is “proof” that Pakistan violated the Geneva Convention. Nothing could be further from the truth, however, since those three videos actually showed that the captured pilot is being treated in full accordance with the Geneva Convention and therefore contributed to de-escalating tensions with India. The Pakistani Armed Forces literally saved his life by rescuing him from a local mob, showing the world their principled commitment to international law that they were willing to also risk their own lives and potentially – if the situation came to do – also use non-lethal force or worse against their own enraged countrymen to ensure the safety of the Indian pilot. That says a lot about Pakistan’s military professionalism and was a proud moment for the country.
The second video showing the captured pilot standing while in custody was evidently meant to reassure the world that the prisoner was successfully brought to a safe space where he was no longer at risk of harm. This was important to signal because Pakistan preemptively thwarted a dangerous infowar escalation from the Indian side by doing this and confirming that the pilot was not only still alive, but in good enough of a condition to stand and say a few words. It’s very likely that had that video not come out as soon as it did, India – which “has more fake news than anywhere else in the world”, as confirmed by a recently released independent report by Microsoft – might have started disseminating fake news and possibly even edited video clips claiming to “prove” that he was “killed” and his body “mutilated” in order to “justify” forthcoming military moves that would have unquestionably escalated the situation.
It’s possibly because of how well he knows his countrymen’s mindset that the Indian pilot voluntarily chose to go on video and send an important peacemaking message to them and the rest of the world, all while calmly sipping tea that his Pakistani captors generously gave him. He said that “I would like to put this on record, and I will not change my statement if I go back to my country also. The officers of the Pakistani Army have looked after me very well. They are thorough gentlemen, starting from the captain who rescued me from the mob, and from the soldiers, and thereafter the officers of the unit which I was taken. This is what I would expect my army to behave as, and I’m very impressed by the Pakistani Army.” Had one expected this footage to be aired far and wide by Indian media, they’d be mistaken, since it’s actually being censored by the state.
State Censorship In The Self-Professed “World’s Largest Democracy”
“The Economic Times” reported that Indian security officials “said on Wednesday that the videos of the captured Indian Air Force pilot were being released on the internet as part of a psychological operation against India and netizens should desist from sharing them on social media”, adding that “It is aimed to demoralise the forces and people.” Because of this, media outlets have refused to share those three videos with their audiences, intending instead to continue fanning the flames of war as part of Modi’s re-election campaign by alleging that the captured pilot is being “mistreated” and that the Indian Armed Forces must promptly take revenge. As most state-driven policies of censorship have a tendency for doing, however, this is backfiring on India because all international media outlets of prominence have reported on that footage and it’s since gone viral on social media, so regular Indians can see that their government’s narrative about Pakistan’s ”mistreatment” of their pilot is false.
It’s precisely because the pilot praised the Pakistani Army and proved that his captors even risked their lives in order to save his own that India imposed a strict policy of censorship in a frantic bid to prevent its warmongering rhetoric from falling apart at the seams, hence the latest fake news narrative that Pakistan supposedly violated the Geneva Convention by releasing footage of the prisoner. New Delhi suffered such a humiliating military defeat on 27 February that it will do anything to distract its people from what happened and desperately try to gin up international support against Pakistan on the alleged basis that Islamabad brazenly violated international law despite the Pakistani state actually upholding the UN Charter by protecting its sovereign airspace from aggressive foreign intrusion. As for the weaponized infowar narrative that Pakistan “paraded” him around as a “public curiosity”, the videos actually prove that the country wanted to pre-emptively counter India’s expected fake news campaign about the pilot’s treatment and fate.
Concluding Thoughts
Yet another Indian infowar narrative is falling apart after the facts once again reveal that the country is pumping out fake news in order to discredit Pakistan and “justify” military aggression against it in support of Modi’s re-election campaign. Not only has no single shred of evidence been publicly presented proving that the Pakistani state was involved in the Pulwama attack nor has anything emerged to confirm India’s incredulous claims that its “surgical strike” killed 200-300 Jaish-e-Mohammed fighters, but the facts actually confirm the opposite, namely that Pakistan had nothing to do with Pulwama and that India’s highly publicized “strike” wasn’t even what it was portrayed as being and certainly didn’t kill a single soul. Likewise, India’s assertion that Pakistan violated the Geneva Convention is also disproven by the video evidence that its neighbor presented but which has been censored from Indian media on “national security” grounds, all in order to keep a “politically convenient” fake news narrative alive ahead of the country’s heated elections.

Did Pakistan use its Chinese JF-17 jets to shoot down Indian planes?

By Liu Zhen
Beijing has refused to confirm a former Pakistani air force officer’s claim that China-made JF-17 fighters were used by the Pakistan Air Force to shoot down Indian military aircraft.Less than two hours after the claim was made on Wednesday morning, the share price of the state-owned plane maker’s sister company rose in trading in Shenzhen.
The Chinese defence ministry did not respond on Thursday when asked whether JF-17s were involved in the Pakistan-India clashes.
Instead, ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said: “The most urgent and important thing is both India and Pakistan should keep restraint.” The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) had said on Wednesday that it shot down two Indian fighter jets that entered Pakistani airspace near the Kashmir Line of Control, and captured a pilot. India said that its air force lost only one MiG-21 Bison and pilot while shooting down a Pakistani F-16. The Pakistani military denied any involvement of the American-made F-16s in the engagement, making it more likely JF-17 jets were deployed – a theory bolstered by a tweet by a retired PAF officer.
“Proud to announce, I was project director for JF-17 Thunder programme jointly produced by Pakistan and China during the [2001-2008] tenure of general Pervez Musharraf,” retired PAF air marshall Shahid Latif tweeted early Wednesday morning.“Today, same jets targeted and shot down Indian jets which entered Pakistani airspace.”
When trading opened less than two hours later in China, shares in Shenzhen-listed Sichuan Chengfei Integration Technology (CAC-SCIT), a sister company of JF-17 maker Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC), rose 10 per cent in five minutes – hitting the maximum daily rise allowed on the Chinese stock market.
Shares in CAC-SCIT, which makes car parts, rose a further 10 per cent on Thursday. CAC is not publicly listed.CAC-SCIT shares had dropped back 5.57 per cent by midday on Friday.If confirmed, the Pakistani operation would represent the first success by JF-17s in real air combat. The lightweight, single-engine, multi-role combat aircraft JF-17 was developed by CAC and is produced jointly with defence and aviation contractor Pakistan Aeronautical Complex. The PAF has about 110 JF-17s.The Nigerian and Myanmese air forces also use JF-17s, which they bought from Pakistan.China has called on both sides to maintain communication and dialogue, “manage the situation and together safeguard peace and stability in this region”, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday.

Crisis may be easing, but nuclear threat still hangs over India and Pakistan

Tensions on the border between India and Pakistan last week pushed the two nuclear-powered South Asian adversaries closer to conflict than at any point in the past two decades.
While the situation has calmed -- Pakistan on Friday released an Indian air force pilot it captured after shooting his pane down -- drastic swings in relations are the norm. Both countries know the risks when tensions spike.
Following their separation in 1947, relations between India and Pakistan have been in a near constant state of agitation. The two sides have fought several major wars -- the last being in 1999 -- involving thousands of casualties and numerous skirmishes across the Line of Control in the contested Kashmir region.
Since that last clash, both countries have quietly sought to enlarge and upgrade their military capabilities.
    Indian M777 howitzers are displayed during a rehearsal for the Republic Day Parade on January 23, 2019, in New Delhi, India. The guns are top-line US technology, analysts say.
    With its military buildup over those decades, India now exceeds Pakistan on most numerical measurements -- fighter jets, troops, tanks and helicopters.
    India far surpasses Pakistan in other measures, too, especially in military budget, $64 billion to $11 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
    But, as is often the case, numbers don't tell the whole story.

    The China question

    India has about 3 million military personnel compared to fewer than 1 million for Pakistan, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, but New Delhi can't focus them all on its neighbor to the west.
    A chunk is focused on India's northeast and its border with China.
    "India's strategic problem is bringing its heft to bear. It has traditionally had to split its forces and leave some in the east to deter Chinese adventurism," said Peter Layton, a former Australian Air Force officer and now fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute.
    In 1962, India and China engaged in a bloody border war and skirmishes have continued to break out sporadically throughout the subsequent years, most recently in the Doklam area in 2017.
    And China is able to keep Indian attentions divided by keeping a close military relationship with Pakistan.
    "There is a convergence with Chinese and Pakistan strategic thinking that has continued for five decades now," said Nishank Motwani, a visiting fellow at the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy with expertise on India and Pakistan.
    China plays another role as Pakistan's biggest arms supplier -- with a whopping 40% of Beijing's military exports going to Islamabad, according to data from a December discussion of Pakistan at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

    India's ties to the West

    While Pakistan has formed a close relationship with China, India -- with a defense budget six times the size of Pakistan's -- has been on a rapid military modernization program of its own.
    "India has more spending power and has been investing in platforms that Pakistan can't afford," Motwani said.
    Among recent acquisitions are airborne early warning and control aircraft with Israeli technology and US airframes and US-made artillery it is deploying along the Kashmir line of control to replace 1980s' Swedish guns, said Motwani.
    India wants even more new military technology, but it is often hamstrung by tight export controls from key suppliers like the US and Britain.
    Other experts say India is also hurt by a poor domestic military industrial base.
    "India does not have an industry ecosystem. So you don't have the experience of design. You may have smart engineers, but that does not mean that they can design a combat jet," said Manoj Joshi, a fellow at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation.
    Pakistan, meanwhile, is making its own fighter jets, Chinese-designed JF-17s.
    A Pakistan JF-17 performs at a Paris airshow in 2015.
    According to some reports, It may have been one of those jets that on Wednesday downed an Indian Air Force fighter plane, leading to the capture by Pakistan of an Indian pilot.
    That Indian jet was a MiG-21. A Soviet-designed aircraft, it has been in service since the 1960s, and the Indian Air Force still says it "forms the backbone" of its fleet with about 200 in inventory.
    But Motwani says Indian pilots call the old jet "the flying coffin" for the accidents it has been involved in.
    An Indian Air Force MIG-21 performs at an airshow in February 2019.
    And that illustrates a problem for India. While it has a massive military budget, a significant chunk of that goes toward maintenance of existing equipment, and salaries.
    "Modernization gets a mere 14% (of allocated funds), which is grossly inadequate," according to an Indian Parliament committee inquiry on military readiness last year.

    The size disparity

    India, with a landmass nearly four times that of Pakistan, can put military assets well back from tense border regions, where any Pakistani strikes against them would encounter multiple layers of air defenses.
    In the smaller and more narrow Pakistan, military bases and assets are harder to shield.
    "Pakistan lacks strategic depth," Motwani said. "A lot of Pakistan bases are close to India which makes them easy targets for Indian forces."
    To carry out any attacks, India has the variety and number of aircraft -- fighters, ground-attack, tankers and AWACs -- that Pakistan just can't match.
    "Large raids would be hard to stop although some losses would be expected," Layton said.
    While the air advantage seems to lean India's way, large-scale ground actions across the border would be tougher for India.
    "Pakistan has a network of canals along the international border to make it harder for Indian formations to move into Pakistan," said Motwani. It's old school warfare, not far removed from the trenches of World War I.
    At sea, the advantage is clearly on the Indian side.
    Pakistan, with a much smaller coastline to defend, has put the lion's share of resources into its army and air force, Motwani said.
    New Delhi has an aircraft carrier and nuclear-powered submarines in its fleet, he said, assets Pakistan can't come close to matching.

    The nuclear threat

    One area where Indian and Pakistan are evenly matched is the area that raises the most worry whenever hostilities spike between the two -- nuclear weapons.
    Figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute last year show Pakistan with 140 to 150 nuclear warheads and India with 130 to 140.
    Layton worries that if the situation gets dire for Pakistan -- something that's far from what we're seeing at the moment -- they could be used before commanders in Islamabad could stop them.
    "Pakistan has a strategic policy of delegating nuclear release approval down to lower level tactical units," he said. "There is a real danger of 'loose nukes,' that is lower-level bellicose commanders using tactical nuclear weapons if they see fit."
    Motwani said Pakistan wants India to know that nuclear threat is always there.
    That leads back to how the current spike in hostilities began, when a Pakistan-based terror group struck an Indian military convoy in Indian-administered Kashmir on February 14, killing 40.
    "Pakistan can use terrorist groups. That's a military strategy it has used for decades as a way to bridge the military gap with India," Motwani said.
      And every time India contemplates retaliation, the nuclear threat is there.
      "It uses its nuclear weapon capability as a firewall that it uses to carry out terrorist strikes in India with impunity," he said.