Crisis in Kashmir

By Ethan Johnson

Rising Tensions after shots fired between India and Pakistan in the Kashmir region leave many nations of the world fearful about the possibility of nuclear war. Pakistan claims that two Indian fighter jets were shot down by Pakistani forces and one of the pilots was later captured.

India has denied that a second jet was shot down but admitted that a pilot had gone missing.

Pakistan has released multiple videos and images depicting what appears to be the wreckage of one jet and the captured pilot. India has since called for the safe return of said pilot.

After the incident, Pakistan closed their airspace to all air traffic including commercial flights that only passs over the nation. Many thousands of passengers are now stuck in Pakistan due to their flights being cancelled.

Pakistan recently promised that they would return the captured pilot as a sign of good faith. However it is unclear if the pilot’s release will help ease tensions.

The violence occurred after a terrorist attack on an Indian convoy left 40 soldiers dead and 5 wounded. India blamed Pakistan for having a direct hand in the attack. India later launched a bombing run on what they claimed was a training camp for the terrorist organization located within Pakistani borders.

Pakistan has also claimed that four of its citizens are dead are two are injured after India fired over the border. India has claimed that Pakistan initiated the attacks earlier in the morning on Thursday.

Officials from China, the United Kingdom, and the United States have all expressed their desires for India and Pakistan to communicate and attempt to relieve tensions between the two nations.

Lu Kang, the spokesman for the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs has said he hopes, “both sides can exercise restraint, take measures conductive to dialogue, work towards the same direction and make positive effort for peace and stability in South Asia.”

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has requested each country avoid “any action that would escalate and greatly increase risk.” President Donald Trump, on his way back from the denuclearization failed talks with North Korean President Kim Jong-Un, also remarked on the conflict saying, "They've been going at it, and we've been involved in trying to have them stop. And we have some reasonably decent news, hopefully that's going to be coming to an end.

The minister of state for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Mark Fields, told the House of Commons that the UK is “working closely with international partners including through the UN security council to de-escalate tensions."  He also expressed hopes that India and Pakistan find a, ““lasting political resolution to the situation.”

President of Russia, Vladimir Putin has “conveyed solidarity of the people of the Russian Federation with the people of India in the fight against terrorism," in a talk with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi by phone. Modi responded by thanking Russia’s "steadfast support for India’s efforts to protect its interests against cross-border terror attacks, and renewed India’s commitment to strengthening bilateral cooperation in countering terrorism as a pillar of privileged and special strategic partnership."

Both countries are equipped with nuclear arsenals which has led to large amounts of concern around the world. Experts predict that even a relatively small nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan could cause a nuclear winter that would have devastating effects on the world. A nuclear winter would decrease the global temperature by over 2 degrees fahrenheit. A large amount of ash from the explosions would also block out the sun darkening the world. There would also be a noticeable decrease in precipitation for the duration of the event. These effects could have catastrophic effects on plant life throughout the world.

The Kashmir region, is a mountainous territory on the border between Pakistan and India that each country claims ownership of. Despite this claim India only controls about 45% of the territory and Pakistan controls about 35%, with China controlling the remaining 20%.

Conflict over the Kashmir region has led to multiple wars between Pakistan and India with the last war being in 1999. Conflicts between the two countries have been occurring since the British Partition of India in 1947. All but the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971 were fought over control of the Kashmir region.

It is not clear whether the two nations can be talked down from a war at this point. However it is hoped at least that the conflict will remain on a small scale and not escalate into nuclear warfare.