With the risk of war escalating between India and Pakistan following an Indian airstrike inside Pakistan on Feb 26, a Pakistani bishop has appealed for peace talks. The Indian government claimed it carried out air raids against an Islamist militant training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed, killing “a very large number” of fighters, raising the risk of a war between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
Pakistan denied there had been any casualties but condemned the Indian action and vowed it would respond.
The airstrike near the town of Balakot, some 50 kilometres from the IndoPakistani border was the deepest crossborder raid launched by India since the last of its three wars with Pakistan in 1971. Tensions between the south-Asian neighbours have escalated dramatically since a suicide car bomb attack on Feb. 14 that killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police in Kashmir.
The Pakistan-based Islamist Jaish group claimed responsibility for the attack.
“We condemn the terrorist attacks in Kashmir, but also any armed reaction: we ask God to change the hearts of men to stop any act that may lead to war,” said Pakistani Bishop Samson Shukardin of Hyderabad. “Let us pray for the victims and pray for peace between India and Pakistan,” he told the Vatican’s Fides news agency.
In December 2001, Jaish fighters, along with members of another Pakistanbased militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, launched an attack on India’s parliament, which almost led to a fourth war.