ISLAMABAD — Pakistan prepared to hand over a captured Indian pilot Friday while blistering cross-border attacks across the disputed Himalayan Kashmir region continued for a fourth straight day, even as the two nuclear-armed neighbors seek to defuse the most serious confrontation in two decades.
Tens of thousands of Indian and Pakistani soldiers face off along the disputed border known as the Line of Control in one of the world most volatile regions. Tensions have been running high since Indian aircraft crossed into Pakistan on Tuesday carrying out what India called a pre-emptive strike against militants blamed for a Feb. 14 suicide attack in Indian Kashmir that killed more than 40 troops. Pakistan retaliated, shooting down two Indian aircraft and capturing a pilot.
World leaders have scrambled to head off an all-out war on the Asian subcontinent. President Donald trump in Hanoi on Thursday said he had been involved in seeking to de-escalate the conflict.
“I think hopefully that’s going to be coming to an end,” Trump said, without elaborating. “It’s been going on for a long time — decades and decades. There’s a lot of dislike, unfortunately, so we’ve been in the middle trying to help them both out, see if we can get some organization and some peace, and I think probably that’s going to be happening.”
On Friday, Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs, is expected in Islamabad with an urgent message from the kingdom’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan told lawmakers on Thursday, “We are releasing the Indian pilot as a goodwill gesture tomorrow.”
But India made it clear that the latest escalation has changed their strategy and going forward they will strike, including inside Pakistan, if they get information of an attack in the planning. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier Thursday warned “India’s enemies are conspiring to create instability in the country through terror attacks.”
Khan also said that he had feared Wednesday night that India might launch a missile attack, but the situation was later defused. He did not elaborate.
“Pakistan wants peace, but it should not be treated as our weakness,” Khan said. “The region will prosper if there is peace and stability. It is good for both sides.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s air space remained closed Friday to most air traffic, although some domestic flights were allowed on Thursday. The air space is expected to re-open by 6 p.m., according to an official …read more
Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News