Closure of Pakistan Airspace
Commercial flights over Pakistan airspace have been cancelled or rerouted in response to the recent uptick of tensions between India and Pakistan. Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Qatar Airways are some of the many airlines adversely affected by the closure. More than 600 Scoot passengers were affected when several Indian airports had to be closed.
Tensions were arguably sparked by a suicide car bombing orchestrated by Pakistan-based militants earlier this month. The bombing claimed at least 44 soldiers in India-controlled area of Kashmir. In retaliation, India had its warplanes launch an airstrike on a Pakistan militant training camp near the Pakistan town of Balakot. The violent exchanges resulted in warplanes from both sides being shot down, with at least 4 Pakistani troops dead and 1 Indian pilot missing.
Territorial Skirmishes Since Dissolution of the British Raj
The territorial partition – that created the bordered nations India and Pakistan – was demarcated by the British India. This promptly resulted in the large-scale displacement of people and violence along religious fault lines. Multiple violent clashes ensued within the Kashmir region in the decades that followed, culminating in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War.
Pressing Need for De-escalation
With both Pakistan and India possessing tactical nuclear weapon capability, the US, EU and China have called for the urgent need on both sides to show restraint. Thankfully, India’s foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj has reassured that “India does not wish to see further escalation of this situation. India will continue to act with responsibility and restraint”. With India’s general election happening in May, nothing is for certain with some commenting that India’s President Modi is “under political pressure” to take a stronger stance against Pakistan-based militants or ‘terrorists’. Let’s hope Modi would instead consider the pleas from the international community to de-escalate and put border troubles to rest.