Deadly Air Clashes Put Modi and Khan on Brink

(Bloomberg) --

India and Pakistan have skirmished for decades over a disputed border in the restive region of Kashmir. But tensions between the nuclear powers have taken a sudden, nasty turn, marking increasingly tricky terrain for leaders Imran Khan and Narendra Modi.

The action has moved from the ground to the air after a suicide bomber killed 40 Indian soldiers earlier this month. Pakistan said today it shot down two Indian aircraft and arrested the pilots. India confirmed the loss of one plane and the capture of one pilot, and said it shot down a Pakistani fighter.

It’s one of the worst escalations since a war in 1971, hitting markets and leading to the suspension of commercial flights in the area.

Neither side wants a full-blown conflict. Equally, it’s risky for either Khan or Modi to be seen to be backing down entirely.

Sounding tough helps Khan at home as the economy struggles and Pakistan’s military continues to doubt the former cricketer’s bona fides. Modi is just weeks from a tough election, and nationalist fervor in India is high.

Both leaders may now claim a moral victory and attempt to leave it at that, with Khan warning India can't be "the judge, jury and executioner," while also saying that he's ready to talk.

But it wouldn’t take much to turn the long-simmering problem into something far more dangerous.

Deadly Air Clashes Put Modi and Khan on Brink

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Deadly Air Clashes Put Modi and Khan on Brink

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