Pakistan says it has shot down two Indian Air Force jets in a major escalation of the conflict between the two nuclear powers. India confirmed the loss of one MiG21 fighter and said its pilot was missing in action. The downing of the aircraft comes a day after India said its jets struck a terrorist training camp in Pakistan—that strike was in response to a suicide attack in Kashmir in February that killed 40 Indian troops. A Pakistan military spokesman confirmed one Indian pilot is in custody. According to The Washington Post, Indian media reportedly identified the pilot as Wing Cmdr. Abhinandan Varthaman after Pakistani television aired a video of him blindfolded with “blood on his face.” India’s Foreign Ministry said it “objected to Pakistan’s vulgar display of an injured personnel” and expected Varthaman’s “immediate and safe return.” Officials also said that blindfolding Varthaman violates the Geneva Conventions’ guidelines regarding treatment of war prisoners.
Wednesday’s plane shootings were followed by an announcement from Eurocontrol saying Pakistan airspace had been closed to airline traffic with immediate effect. In a TV address, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said: “History tells us that wars are full of miscalculation. My question is that given the weapons we have can we afford miscalculation... We should sit down and talk... The only reason for the action today was to show India that we have the capability to respond.” Both India and Pakistan claim all of Kashmir, but control only parts of it.