Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 August 2019

Pakistan and India tensions rise over Kashmir - as it happened

Pakistan shoots down two Indian jets after three of its own entered Indian airspace

  • Pakistan says it has shot down two Indian jets in Kashmir and captured two Indian airforce pilots
  • Three Pakistani jets entered Indian airspace
  • India says it shot down a Pakistani aircraft
  • Escalation comes after India strike terrorist military camps following a terror attack earlier this month

Relations between India and Pakistan reached their lowest point in years on Wednesday as both countries crossed the Kashmiri line of control with military aircraft.

The military escalation comes nearly two weeks after a car bomb by a Pakistani-based terror group struck an Indian military convoy, killing 44.

Read more: Explained: Kashmir: A mountainous region plagued by a decades-old fault line | Comment: The intensity of India's anger makes it harder to hear calm voices

All times UTC+4

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21:00 Wednesday's live coverage closed

Catch up with our latest stories and analysis on the precarious situation in Kashmir here:

Pakistan and India conflict fears grow after warplanes shot down

Analysis: Why India and Pakistan must step back from the brink

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17:50 World governments call for urgent restraint

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt called for urgent restraint on both sides as world governments voiced concerns over rising India-Pakistan tensions.

In a video posted on Twitter, Britain's foreign secretary said neither side wants to see this escalate further and the situation will take a "really critical restraint in the coming days".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the countries to avoid "further military activity".

"I encourage both ministers to prioritise direct communication and avoid further military activity," he said.

Read more

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17:30 India objects to Pakistan's 'vulgar display' of captured Indian pilot

India has objected to what it called a "vulgar display" of the captured airforce pilot, alleging Pakistan are in breach of international law and the Geneva Convention.

New Delhi called for the pilot's immediate and safe return, warning it reserves the right to protect its national sovereignty.

"India also strongly objected to Pakistan’s vulgar display of an injured personnel of the Indian Air Force in violation of all norms of International Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Convention," it said.

A video of the captured pilot - saying he was being treated well - spread widely on social media, and Pakistan's military spokesman tweeted a screenshot of the video. It is unclear if the pilot was speaking freely.

In a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs, India summoned the acting High Commissioner of Pakistan "to lodge a strong protest" at what it called "the unprovoked act of aggression by Pakistan against India".

The statement also said India had handed over a dossier detailing the existence of "terrorist infrastructure in territories under [Pakistani] control".

"A dossier was handed over to Pakistan side with specific details of JeM complicity in Pulwama terror attack and the presence of JeM terror camps and its leadership in Pakistan," the statement read.

"It was conveyed that India expects Pakistan to take immediate and verifiable action against terrorism emanating from territories under its control."

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17:15 Pakistan President endorses Khan's message of peace

Pakistan's Presdient Dr Arif Alvi said Prime Minister Imran Khan's message was "appropriate, precise and compassionate".

He said Pakistan wants peace and is ready to help in any investigation of the terror attack earlier this month.

War, he said, has "unmanageable dynamics, therefore sanity should prevail."

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17:05 Foreign Minister Hunt: UK urges restraint

The United Kingdom's foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said he is urging India and Pakistan to show restraint to avoid an escalation of the conflict.

"Both countries are good friends of the UK ... we are urging restraint on all sides," he said, saying he had spoken to both India's and Pakistan's foreign ministers.

"Neither side wants to see this escalate further, but this is going to take a really critical restraint in the days ahead and we're doing everything we can to support the de-escalation of the tensions that are happening at the moment," he said.

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17:00 Pakistani military spokesman: Indian pilot treated well

Pakistan's military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor tweeted a screenshot from a video in which the captured Indian pilot says he is being treated well.

Mr Ghafoor also corrects his previous statement in which he said two pilots were in the Pakistan Army's custody.

In the video, the pilot says he is being treated as well as he hopes his army would treat a captive soldier and thanks the commander from saving him from a mob.

It is unclear if the pilot was able to speak freely.

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16:45 India summons Pakistani Deputy High Commissioner

India has summoned Pakistan's Deputy High Commissioner stationed in New Delhi in the wake of escalating bilateral tensions on the Kashmir border, according to a top-level source at India's Ministry of External Affairs, Himendra Kumar reports.

"India has placed its Army, Navy and Air Force on the highest alert and all of them are in a state of combat readiness," he said.

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16:34 Six Indian Air Force officers killed in helicopter crash

Six Indian Air Force officers and one civilian were killed after an Indian Air Force helicopter crashed in Kashmir's Budgam area on Wednesday.

The crash followed heavy shelling from Pakistan on the international border, an official at India's Ministry of External Affairs told Himendra Kumar.

The cause of the crash was a technical malfunction and inclement weather, they said. This entry is an update to 15:00.

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15:42 UAE civil aviation authority cease all flights to Pakistan

The UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority ceased all flights to Pakistan, on Wednesday, they announced on Twitter.

"Based on the current situation in Pakistan, the General Civil Aviation Authority has decided to suspend all flights by airlines registered to the UAE to Pakistan until further notice," they said on Twitter.

"The GCAA will monitor the situation in Pakistan and take an appropriate decision regarding any developments to ensure the safety of passengers and national carriers."

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15:40: Afternoon recap: Wednesday's key events

Wednesday's escalation of tensions in Kashmir began with Pakistani aircraft crossing the Kashmiri line of control and firing on six military sites, according to Pakistan's military spokesman.

In retaliation, Indian jets crossed into Pakistani controlled Kashmir and two aircraft were shot down. One fell in Indian controlled Kashmir, and the other on the Pakistani side of the line.

Pakistan says they have captured two Indian pilots. Meanwhile, India says it shot down one Pakistani aircraft.

Pakistani soldiers stand next to what Pakistan says is the wreckage of an Indian fighter jet shot down in Pakistan controlled Kashmir. AFP
Pakistani soldiers stand next to what Pakistan says is the wreckage of an Indian fighter jet shot down in Pakistan controlled Kashmir. AFP

Commercial flights across both countries were halted on Wednesday, as the nuclear-armed neighbours watched for any further action.

The reaction in Islamabad has been to downplay the significance of their strikes on Indian military targets.

"When India carried out strikes yesterday, we didn't go for a knee jerk reaction. We waited and carried out our strikes today," Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said, adding that he wanted to sit down and talk with Indian authorities and to investigate the suicide bomb which killed 44 Indian policemen.

Pakistan's military spokesman said the strikes in Indian Kashmir were "not a retaliation in the true sense. We wanted to showcase to India that we have the capability to hit but want to continue to remain a responsible nation."

New Delhi has been quieter. The Ministry for External Affairs criticised the Pakistani military for taking action after what they said were counter-terrorism operations.

India struck targets on Pakistan's side of the line of control on Tuesday, which they say were terrorist training camps.

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15:15 Dubai Airports confirms impact on air travel

The airports operator for Dubai said it is working closely with airlines to minimise inconvenience. UAE airlines suspended flights earlier.

The National's Gillian Duncan has more details on suspended and cancelled flights between the UAE and India and Pakistan.

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15:00 Four dead in Indian Air Force helicopter crash near Srinagar

Indian police say officials have recovered four bodies from the wreckage of an Indian Air Force helicopter that crashed in Indian-controlled sector of Kashmir.

Senior police officer Munir Ahmed Khan said the helicpter crashed close to the airport - which was closed for civilian use.

Soldiers fired warning shots to keep residents away from the crash site.

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14:23 Prime Minister Imran Khan: If India can enter Pakistan, we can enter India

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the country on Pakistani television
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the country on Pakistani television

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan said his country's strike of six military targets across the Indian line of control was a measured response to show India they can retaliate if they wanted to.

Speaking in an address broadcast on Pakistani television, Mr Khan called for an investigation into the terror attack that killed 44 Indian policemen.

Mr Khan also warned that "world history has taught us that there have been miscalculation in wars."

He asked for India and Pakistan to "sit down and talk" to resolve the crisis with India.

"When India carried out strikes yesterday, we didn't go for a knee jerk reaction. We waited and carried out our strikes today," Mr Khan said.

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14:07 India says it shot down a Pakistani jet

India said it shot down a Pakistani fighter aircraft and criticised the Pakistani response to what it said was counter-terrorism operations, in a statement on Wednesday.

A statement by the official spokesperson for the India Ministry for External Affairs criticised Pakistan for responding to their counter-terrorism operations by targetting military installations, saying the Indian airforce responded immediately.

The Indian ministry said they shot down one Pakistani aircraft, and said they lost one aircraft and the pilot is currently missing in action:

"In that aerial engagement, one Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft was shot down by a MiG 21 Bison of the Indian Air Force.

"The Pakistani aircraft was seen by ground forces falling from the sky on the Pakistan side.

"In this engagement, we have unfortunately lost one MiG 21. The pilot is missing in action. Pakistan has claimed that he is in their custody."

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14:00 Bahrain's Gulf Air suspends flights to and from Pakistan

Bahrain's national airline suspended flights to and from Pakistan, Reuters reported.

"On 27 February, flights to/from Lahore, Multan and Islamabad are cancelled and all passengers will be transferred to next available flights when the airspace is open again," it said in a statement.

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13:43 Pictures emerge of pilot reportedly captured by Pakistan

Pictures have emerged that seem to show the airforce pilot captured in Pakistan.

Images, tweeted by Radio Pakistan, the country's state broadcaster, show what appears to be an Indian airforce pilot with a bloodied face.

The picture could not be independently verified by The National, but other pictures and videos purportedly of the captured pilot show the same person.

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13:30 Imran Khan to address Pakistan

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan will address the country, the PTI, Mr Khan's politicial party, said on Twitter.

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13:20 Pakistan engaged Indian positions to showcase power, spokesman says

Pakistan's Military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said that Pakistan hit six Indian military supply lines as a show of force to the country, but denied it was a retaliation.

"This was not a retaliation in the true sense. We wanted to showcase to India that we have the capability to hit but want to continue remain a responsible nation," he said.

Mr Ghafoor said then, two Indian air force jets crossed the line of control and they were shot down by Pakistani planes.

One plane fell on the Pakistani side of the line of control and another on the Indian side, Mr Ghafoor said.

The Pakistani military spokesman also denied they had engaged a third aircraft, which is reported to have crashed.

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13:10 Pakistan summons Indian Acting High Commissioner

Pakistan summoned the Indian Acting High Commissioner on what it says are "unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces along the Line of Control."

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Pakistan said in a statement, four civilians have been killed and six others injured in the escalations.

"The deliberate targeting of civilian populated areas is indeed deplorable and contrary to human dignity, international human rights and humanitarian laws," the statement said, adding "the ceasefire violations by India are a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation."

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12:45 Airports shut in Pakistan

Empty skies above north west India and Pakistan. Screengrab/FlightRadar24
Empty skies above north west India and Pakistan. Screengrab/FlightRadar24

Airports across India and Pakistan have shut and flights from across the world have been diverted or cancelled.

Pakistani commercial airspace has been closed and some planes have been diverted, the countries civil aviation authority said on Twitter.

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12:40 Explained: How tensions escalated on the Kashmiri border

The military escalation comes nearly two weeks after a car bomb by a Pakistani-based terror group struck an Indian military convoy.

Some 44 Indian police officers were killed in the blast, with India blaming Pakistan for providing a safe haven for the terrorists.

As threats were exchanged, diplomats from Islamabad and New Delhi were recalled, photographs of Pakistan's Prime Minister – and former cricket star – Imran Khan were taken down in cricket clubs across India.

Leaders from around the world, including the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, called for restraint, and Mr Khan said he did not want war.

But on Tuesday, India launched an airstrike on what they said was a training camp for terrorists.

It is currently unclear how the events on Wednesday unfolded, but both Indian and Pakistani jets crossed the line of control and at least two Indian planes were shot down.

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12:14 Fake news: Taliban dispute statement on the escalation

The Taliban's spokesman said a statement attributed to the group saying the conflict was destabilising the region was false.

Zabiullah Mujahid, the group's spokesman, claimed no statement was released, disputing earlier reports attributing the statement to him.

"The continuation of such conflict will affect the Afghanistan peace process," he was quoted as saying.

"India should not carry out any further violence in Pakistan because its continuation will affect regional security also the continuation of such conflict will cost a lot to India," the reports said.

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12:03 Analyst: When will the international community come into play?

Gen Talat Masud, a senior army officer turned political analyst, told Ben Farmer the international community appears to be focussed on Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un's summit in South Korea.

"There's no doubt about the seriousness of the situation because it continues to escalate and there appears to be no intention to indulge in dialogue," Mr Masud said.

He said the international community appeared to be focused on Donald Trump's summit with Kim Jong-un in Vietnam, but the crisis had reached the stage where only major powers might be able to restrain the adversaries.

He said: "When will the international community come into play? Who will bring any restraint into the system?"

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11:55 Pakistan military spokesman: We have captured two Indian pilots

Pakistan's armed forces spokesperson said they have captured two Indian pilots in a press conference on Wednesday.

Major General Asif Ghafoor said the country does not want to escalate crisis with India and they do not want to take the region to war.

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11:39 Airports closed across India and Pakistan

Airports across India and Pakistan near the border have closed amid the escalation in tensions.

India's Indigo airline said flights to an from Srinagar, Jammu, Chandigarh, Amritsar and Dehradun airports are temporarily shut.

Flights to and from Pakistani airports of Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Sialkot and Islamabad are also reportedly shut.

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11:32 Pakistan asks for Organisation of Islamic Co-operation to withdraw Indian invitation

Pakistan's Senate chairman asked for India's invitation to the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation conference in Abu Dhabi next week to be revoked in a letter to the organisation, according to the Associated Press of Pakistan.

"He stated that the people, government and Parliament of Pakistan were highly appreciative of the historic and continuing support by OIC for the innocent people of Indian Occupied Kashmir facing unprecedented brutalities of Indian security forces," the APP report said.

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11:27 Footage of downed Indian jets emerges

Video footage from the Associated Press of Pakistan, a government-run news agency, shows the burning wreck of combat jet.

One of the jets crashed in Pakistani controlled Kashmir, while another fell on the Indian side of the line of control.

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11:20 Indian jets downed in Kashmir

Hello and welcome to The National's live updates as tensions between India and Pakistan rise.

Pakistan shot down two Indian military aircraft on the Pakistani side of disputed Kashmir on Wednesday, arresting one of the pilots, the spokesman for the Pakistan Armed Forces said.

The incident followed three Pakistani combat jets entering the Indian side of Kashmir in retaliation for previous incursion by India, Ben Farmer reports.

Updated: February 27, 2019 10:03 PM

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