Are India and Pakistan going to war?


This is a question that has long been purely rhetorical. After all, both nations have recently lived in relative peace along the border for over a decade.

Yet today the question seems less absurd, and more urgent.

Indian military officials have announced that they launched what it calls a "surgical strike" across the Line of Control - the highly militarised frontier that divides the Kashmir region between India and Pakistan.

(Channi Anand/AP)

Tensions, which are always simmering between two countries, increased after an attack earlier this month on an Indian military base in Kashmir.

India accused Pakistan of sending militants belonging to the outlawed Jaish-e-Mohammed group, headquartered in Pakistan, to carry out the attack. Pakistan denied the charge.

At the time, the director-general of military operations for the Indian Army announced that the "terrorists" responsible for the attack carried gear which had "Pakistani markings".

However, Pakistan denies that the site of the attack was a terrorist base, pointing out that two of its soldiers had also been killed.

(Channi Anand/AP)

Tensions mounted as members of Indian extremist group Maharastra Navnirman Sena demanded that Pakistani actors and artists currently working in India return back to Pakistan within a 48-hour deadline.

Narendra Modi, India's prime minister, has been under intense pressure from his own party and the Indian public to respond to the attack on the military base.

Indian officials gave few details about the strikes across the disputed border on Wednesday night.

"Significant casualties were caused to the terrorists and those who support them," Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, director general of military operations for the Indian Army, told reporters in New Delhi.

Singh said the operations were over and India has no plans for more strikes. He said he shared details of the strikes with his Pakistani counterpart.

Indian soldiers travelling on foot crossed the Line of Control into the Pakistani-controlled portion to attack several targets based on intelligence about imminent attacks, said a high-ranking Indian official.

He said the Indian forces killed at least 10 people before retreating back into Indian-controlled territory. The Indian soldiers suffered no losses, he said.

An Indian army soldier rides in the back of a truck near the highly militarized Line of Control.

The Pakistani military flatly denied any "surgical strikes" had occurred.

"There has been no surgical strike by India, instead there had been cross-border fire initiated and conducted by India," a Pakistani military statement said.

Pakistan defence minister Khawaja Asif said two of their soldiers were killed and nine others were wounded in the exchanges at five different places along the disputed border. Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the "unprovoked and naked aggression of Indian forces".

Kashmir is claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan, but controlled in part by each.

Although the situation remains unstable, civilians on both side of the border took to Twitter to express their hopes for peaceful settlement.