India and Pakistan Pull Back From the Brink in Kashmir, for Now

Mar 6, 2019 | 18:05 GMT

Indians wait for Pakistani officials to hand over a captured Indian pilot at the border crossing near Wagah, Pakistan, on March 1, 2019.

Indians gather at the Pakistani border on March 1 to await the return of an Indian pilot from Pakistan. The pilot was captured in Pakistani-held Kashmir after his plane was shot down during one of the biggest standoffs over the disputed territory in years.



  • While Islamabad’s release of a captured Indian pilot has tentatively de-escalated the archrivals’ latest conflict in Kashmir, tensions between India and Pakistan remain at their highest point in decades.
  • Facing a tough election due by May, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take a stronger stance against Pakistan to secure additional support, risking another escalation in the short term.
  • But as long as Pakistani support for Kashmir militants endures as part of Islamabad's long-running asymmetric warfare campaign, future and potentially larger-scale attacks between two nuclear-armed neighbors are inevitable.

On Feb. 26, Indian warplanes entered Pakistan’s airspace and reportedly bombed a training camp belonging to the Pakistani militant group responsible for a Feb. 14 attack in Indian-administered Kashmir. In retaliation, Pakistan launched airstrikes across the Line of Control, which separates the disputed region between the two countries. The Pakistani military captured an Indian pilot amid the turmoil. Pakistan has since returned the pilot to India, enabling the two countries to de-escalate their aggression for the time being. But the latest episode nonetheless indicates that New Delhi is using bolder tactics against Islamabad's support of militants in Kashmir, meaning the next round of retaliations between the South Asian rivals will almost surely be more dangerous than the last....

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