A top Indian official on Tuesday suggested New Delhi is planning to take more military action against Pakistan in retaliation for the terrorist attack in the disputed region of Kashmir controlled by India that triggered reciprocal air operations by the two nuclear-armed neighbors earlier this year and prompted concerns of another war between the two rivals.
India Today quotes India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval as saying at the 80th Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) anniversary day on Tuesday:
The country has neither forgotten, nor will ever forget the Pulwama terror attack [in Indian-administered Kashmir]. The leadership will decide on the time and locations to act. Be it against terrorists or those who support and harbor the terrorists.
Islamabad denies New Delhi’s assertions that Pakistan was involved in the February 14 attack by a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorist who rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into a CRPF convoy, leaving over 40 security officers dead in one of the bloodiest attacks in the region in years.
“I pay my tributes to the 40 CRPF men who laid their lives in Pulwama,” Doval declared.
The Valentine’s Day terrorist attack prompted reciprocal air operations over the disputed region of Kashmir by India and Pakistan in late February, marking an escalation not seen in decades of periodic clashes along the border that separates the areas controlled by the two countries.
“India’s Navy has confirmed it sent nuclear submarines, an aircraft carrier battle group and dozens of other naval vessels to the North Arabian Sea after a suicide bombing in February led to a tense military stand-off with Pakistan,” Bloomberg reports.
Concerns of an all-out war appeared to ease briefly in early March with Islamabad’s return of a captured Indian pilot.
“Now, NDA Ajit Doval has clearly hinted that more action will be taken against Pakistan which has been accused of supporting harboring terrorists like Masood Azhar, whose Jaish-E-Mohammad claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack,” Indian Today notes.
New Delhi and Islamabad have been locked in a struggle over Kashmir for 70-plus years— fighting two wars and a limited conflict since Pakistan broke away from India in 1947.
Pakistan, its ally China, and their rival India all have competing territorial claims to Kashmir, but Beijing tends to stay in the shadows of the disputes, usually backing Islamabad.
Seen as a reflection of its loyalty to its all-weather ally Pakistan, China once again blocked a United Nations vote in the wake of the tensions to list Masood Azhar, the head of the already banned JEM group, as a global terrorist.
Despite a 2003 India-Pakistan ceasefire, the two countries have repeatedly clashed along their Kashmir border known as the Line of Control (LOC).
India accuses Pakistan of backing jihadis and separatists in Kashmir. Meanwhile, Islamabad accuses New Delhi of violently oppressing pro-Pakistan separatists who are fighting for independence or in favor of a merger with Pakistan.
Over 500 casualties in Indian-held Kashmir alone made 2018 the bloodiest year in the region in nearly a decade.
China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative’s (BRI) is expected to run through the territory in Kashmir controlled by India, which has repeatedly repudiated Beijing’s effort also known as the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) project. Echoing New Delhi, the U.S. considers OBOR a national security threat.