Youth paint a wall to depict IAF’s strike on Jaish-e-Mohammad’s biggest camp and pay tribute to the slain CRPF jawans of Pulwama terror attack, in Kolkata. Photo PTI Swapan Mahapatra 

Getting Back Captured Pilot Could Help Defuse India-Pakistan Tension

Tension flared up after Pakistan today retaliated to Indian Air Force’s Balakot strikes that were aimed at a terror training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed—the organisation which claimed responsibility for the attack that killed 40 CRPF jawans in Pulwama.

Pakistan attempted to target military installations in India but the attack was defended by the Indian Air Force, a statement by the Ministry of External Affairs said. In the aerial engagement that followed, one Pakistan air force fighter was shot down and India lost one MiG-21 fighter jet. The pilot of that jet is now in Pakistani custody.

How can the situation be de-escalated?

The statements coming from Pakistan indicate that it does not want to escalate the situation, Virendra Gupta, former Indian ambassador, told BloombergQuint. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan appealed for peace and dialogue in the aftermath of the air skirmish. Even though Pakistan has an Indian pilot in its custody, the government must resist the temptation to escalate tensions at this stage, he said.

I was very struck by what Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said that in war there are miscalculations. We should not discount that.
Virendra Gupta, Former Ambassador 

India maintains that its strikes were not aimed at the Pakistani establishment but the non-state actors. Islamabad, on its part, has said that the strikes did no damage and its own incursion into India was aimed at showing that it has the capacity to respond.

Statements from both India and Pakistan were carefully drafted to provide room for de-escalation, according to Manoj Joshi, distinguished fellow at Observer Research Foundation. Reactions from China and the U.S. calling for restraint could also help calm things down, he said, adding that resolving the case of the captured Indian pilot is critical to restoring normalcy between India and Pakistan.

Unless and until the issue of the missing pilot is addressed quickly by diplomatic means or otherwise... If that can be defused quickly, then people can wind down this crisis.
Manoj Joshi, Distinguished Fellow, ORF  

According to foreign affairs expert Richard Rossow, India can exert its considerable credibility with the international community to further isolate Pakistan. India should double down on non-military steps like putting pressure on the United Nations Security Council to take up a stronger stance against Pakistan to prove its point, he said.

You can watch the entire discussion here:

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