Pakistan does “not want to go towards war” with India, its military spokesman said Wednesday, hours after Islamabad said it shot down two Indian warplanes in its airspace, igniting fears of an all-out conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbors.
“We do not want escalation, we do not want to go towards war,” Major General Asif Ghafoor told a press conference in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, calling for talks with New Delhi.
He added that two Indian pilots had been captured, with one in custody and one in hospital.
Meanwhile, Pakistan also closed its airspace on Wednesday, the Civil Aviation Authority and the military said, as fears of an all-out conflict spiked.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) tweeted that it “has officially closed its airspace until further notice”, while a Pakistani military spokesman said the decision had been taken “due to the environment”.
Earlier, Pakistan had shot down two Indian Air Force planes in its airspace in Kashmir on Wednesday, which flew across the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border in disputed Kashmir, to the Indian side in a show of strength, hitting non-military targets including supply depots.
Afterwards, Gahfoor said, the two Indian planes crossed the LoC into Pakistani airspace.
“The Pakistan Air Force was ready, they took them on, there was an engagement. As a result both the Indian planes were shot down and the wreckage of one fell on our side while the wreckage of the other fell on their side,” he said.
Indian sources confirmed Pakistani fighter jets had violated airspace over Indian Kashmir, but said they were forced back over the LoC, and there was no immediate response to the claim the planes had been shot down.
The incident is the latest in a dangerous sequence of events between the two countries, whose ties have been under intense strain since a February 14 suicide bombing in Indian Kashmir that killed 40 troops.