WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday called on India and Pakistan to “exercise restraint” amid soaring tensions between the two nuclear-armed countries, while urging Islamabad to take action against militants.
“We encourage India and Pakistan to exercise restraint, and avoid escalation at any cost,” Pompeo said in a statement after speaking with his counterparts from both countries.
Pompeo said that in talks with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, he stressed “the priority of de-escalating current tensions by avoiding military action, and the urgency of Pakistan taking meaningful action against terrorist groups operating on its soil.”
In a response to Indian Line of Control (LoC) violation, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) destroyed two Indian fighter jets on Wednesday morning.
According to details, the wreckage of one aircraft fell in Central Kashmir’s Budgam while the other’s in Pakistan territory. Two of the pilots have been killed in the incident.
Meanwhile, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Major General Asif Ghafoor said Pakistan Air Force engaged six targets from across the Line of Control in Occupied Kashmir this morning.
He said Pak armed forces have capability, will, resolve, people backing and all resources. But being a responsible state, we decided that we will not aim any military target. We also wanted to ensure that no human loss or collateral damage is done during our engaging the targets.
He said we selected six targets but we hit the areas close to them while keeping a safe distance, in order to demonstrate our capability. This action was purely in self-defense and with no aggressive designs.
The reaction came after Indian aircrafts intruded into Pakistan airspace and released payload in haste near Balakot. However, they scrambled back on PAF’s timely and effective response.
Following the violation, Pakistan decided to respond to India at its own choice of a time and a place.
The statement issued after the meeting read “Pakistan strongly rejected Indian claim of targeting an alleged terrorist camp near Balakot as well as the claim of heavy casualties. Once again Indian government has resorted to a self-serving, reckless and fictitious claim.”
Foreign Minister Qureshi had also warned India of severe consequences, geopolitical ramifications and such moves could aggravate the already simmering tension between both countries.
DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor said, “It’s you (India) who is sending war threats. We’re not preparing for a war but we have a right to respond to the war threats from your side.”
Tensions between Pakistan and India have been escalated since a suicide attack in occupied Kashmir killed 44 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soldiers.
The attack saw explosives packed inside a van rip through buses in a convoy of 78 vehicles carrying some 2,500 members of the paramilitary CRPF.
India threatens to isolate Pakistan at international level
On February 15, Indian government had blamed Pakistan for Pulwama attack and threatened to isolate it at international level.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said those behind the terror attack would pay a “very heavy price” and had made a “huge mistake”.
Union Minister Arun Jaitley said they will take all possible diplomatic steps to ensure “complete isolation” of Pakistan and has withdrawn Most Favoured Nation status to the country.