Pakistan released an Indian pilot as a gesture of peace toward India on Friday. In the days prior, two Indian jets had reportedly entered Pakistani airspace and were shot down.
Wing Commander Abhi Nandan was downed in Pakistan territory and was captured by the Pakistani government. The other was shot down in Indian-controlled territory.
India and Pakistan have fought over the territory known as Kashmir-Jammu since 1947. The countries have fought three wars over Kashmir, with the most recent being in 1999. Both India and Pakistan now occupy different parts of the region.
On Feb. 14, a unknown individual drove a car filled with explosivess into a bus carrying Indian paramilitary police in Kashmir, killing at least 40.
The attack was claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan-based militant organization.
India blamed Pakistan for the attack, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned that appropriate action would be taken as retribution.
India launched counterattack airstrikes against Pakistan on Feb. 26, in retaliation for the bus attack.
The targets of the airstrikes were alleged terrorist training camps that were on the Pakistani side of the border.
Tensions have pushed the nations back to the brink of war and have triggered fights about the truth of events. India has refused to release evidence of the suicide attack and proof of Pakistan’s involvement, raising questions of its legitimacy.
Instability and uncertainty were rising in the region, but seemed to be lessening after Pakistan released the captured Indian pilot in an attempt to ease tensions. However gesture has only temporarily deescalated tensions.
Both countries hold approximately 140-150 nuclear weapons. Although nuclear attacks are unlikely, leaders of Pakistan have said that they are “preparing for all eventualities.” India and Pakistan have also assembled teams to make decisions for when a nuclear attacks may be necessary.
The explosions from a nuclear blast would be localized to the region, but the repercussions could affect the globe.
Researchers have called it a “global nuclear famine,” suggesting that the ozone layer could be crippled and earth’s climate could cool for years, causing crop and fishery losses.
“The danger of nuclear winter has been under-understood — poorly understood — by both policymakers and the public,” Michael Willis, a researcher at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research said.
By: Sierra Ross | Staff Writer