Pakistan says Indian Air Force violated airspace, escalating tensions

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Pakistan military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor addresses a press conference in Rawalpindi, April 17, 2017. (AP/File)
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Photos shared by Pakistan army spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor of the ‘payload’ released by what the spokesman described as “hastily escaping Indian aircrafts.” On Tuesday morning, the military said Indian jets had violated its airspace but Pakistan scrambled jets in response. (Photo courtesy: OfficialDGISPR/Twitter)
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Photos shared by Pakistan army spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor of the ‘payload’ released by what the spokesman described as “hastily escaping Indian aircrafts.” On Tuesday morning, the military said Indian jets had violated its airspace but Pakistan scrambled jets in response. (Photo courtesy: OfficialDGISPR/Twitter)
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Photos shared by Pakistan army spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor of the ‘payload’ released by what the spokesman described as “hastily escaping Indian aircrafts.” On Tuesday morning, the military said Indian jets had violated its airspace but Pakistan scrambled jets in response. (Photo courtesy: OfficialDGISPR/Twitter)
Updated 27 February 2019

Pakistan says Indian Air Force violated airspace, escalating tensions

  • Pakistan scrambled jets in response, India “hastily escaped”, Military spokesman says.
  • Indian news agency says 12 jets entered Pakistan and destroyed “terror camps”

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s military said on Tuesday Indian jets had violated the de facto border between the two countries but “released a payload” and “hastily escaped” after Pakistan scrambled its own jets after them.
The early morning assault, which Pakistan’s army spokesman said had not caused any damage or casualties, comes after days of simmering tensions between Pakistan and India over a Feb 14 suicide bombing in the disputed Kashmir region in which 40 Indian paramilitary troopers were killed.
The attack was claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group. New Delhi blamed Islamabad for the assault and promised a “strong response.” Pakistan denies any state complicity.
“Indian Air Force violated Line of Control. Pakistan Air Force immediately scrambled. Indian aircrafts gone back,” Pakistani military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said.
He said the Indian aircraft “intruded from Muzafarabad sector,” an area in the Pakistan-administered part of Kashmir, but faced a “timely and effective response from Pakistan Air Force.”
While escaping, Ghafoor said, the Indian jets “released payload … which fell near Balakot” in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
“Indian aircrafts’ intrusion across LOC in Muzafarabad Sector within AJ&K was 3-4 miles,” he said in another tweet. “Under forced hasty withdrawal aircrafts released payload which had free fall in open area.”
Ghafoor also tweeted pictures of what he said was the payload released by the “hastily escaping Indian aircrafts.”
The strikes raised the possibility of military escalation between the nuclear-armed neighbors who have fought three wars since they gained independence from the British in 1947, two of them over the disputed Kashmir region.
Reuters reported that India’s defense ministry said it had no information about Pakistan’s claims.
But ANI, an Indian news agency, quoted Indian Air Force sources as saying at least twelve Indian jets entered Pakistan at around 3.30 a.m. on Tuesday morning and “struck a major terrorist camp … and completely destroyed it.”
“12 Mirage 2000 jets took part in the operation that dropped 1000 Kg bombs on terror camps across LOC, completely destroying it,” ANI said in one of several tweets about the alleged strikes.
Although exchanges of artillery and light weapons on the Line of Control are not uncommon, Tuesday’s statement from the Pakistan army is a rare public announcement of an attempted airstrike by arch-rival India.
In September 2016, India said it had conducted “surgical strikes” on militants in Pakistan it suspected of preparing to infiltrate into the part of Kashmir it controls. Pakistan completely rejected the claim.
The alleged strikes followed a militant attack on an army base in Uri near LOC that killed 17 soldiers.


Pakistan ranks ninth on CPJ’s 2020 Global Impunity Index 

Updated 26 min 46 sec ago

Pakistan ranks ninth on CPJ’s 2020 Global Impunity Index 

  • The annual index spotlights countries where journalists are slain and their killers go free
  • The ranking is: Somalia, Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Mexico, Philippines, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Russia, India

ISLAMABAD: The Committee to Protect Journalists has ranked Pakistan number nine on its annual Global Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are slain and their killers go free. 

The ranking is: Somalia, Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Mexico, Philippines, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Russia, India.

Each year the CPJ index includes more stable countries where criminal and political groups, politicians, business leaders, and other powerful actors resort to violence to silence critical and investigative journalists. 

“CPJ has found that corruption, weak institutions, and lack of political will to pursue robust investigations are all factors behind impunity in these countries, which include Pakistan, Mexico, and the Philippines,” the watchdog said on its website. 

In Pakistan, a verdict in the Daniel Pearl case this year showed that “even murder cases that were long thought to be resolved can be upended,” the watchdog said. 

On April 2, the Sindh High Court overturned the murder convictions of four men accused in the 2002 killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. The decision found Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who had previously been sentenced to death, guilty only of kidnapping Pearl and reduced his sentence to seven years, which he has already served. The Pearl family and the Sindh provincial government appealed, and according to news reports, the four men remained imprisoned at the end of September.

Freeing the men “would be a devastating setback for justice that would also send a dangerous message to Jihadi militants in Pakistan and around the world, who have systematically targeted journalists in the 18 years since Pearl was killed,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon wrote in the Columbia Journalism Review.

Pakistan and the Philippines have been mainstays on the Global Impunity Index since its inception in 2008. The Philippines is the biggest mover in this year’s rankings, improving from the fifth worst country worldwide to the seventh worst.