The display of military readiness, which included a late-night jet flyover Thursday above this capital city, has come amid an unusually tense showdown with India, Pakistan’s nuclear-armed rival, following a militant attack Sundaythat killed 18 Indian soldiers in the disputed border region of Kashmir. The air exercise led to the closure of commercial airspace over several regions of the country and triggered a sudden drop in the nation’s stock market.
Indian officials have accused Pakistan of sending the armed attackers across the de facto border into the Indian portion of Kashmir. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, under public pressure to retaliate for Sunday’s assault, vowed that those behind the “despicable attack” would not go unpunished. So far, though, his government has taken no action.
Pakistani officials have strongly denied the charges, and its military leaders have declared that they are prepared to defend Pakistani territory from any attack by India, and also to launch a “counter-offensive” in case of an Indian strike. The two neighboring countries have been adversaries for decades and have fought four wars.
On Thursday, Indian naval officials issued a high alert for coastal areas after school children claimed to have seen four men moving “suspiciously” near a naval facility near the city of Mumbai, according to the Press Trust of India. Schools and some public buildings in the area were shut while a manhunt was conducted, and security was tightened at other coastal facilities.
In New York, meanwhile, Pakistan and Indian officials have carried on a parallel war of words at the U.N. General Assembly. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif delivered a strident speech Wednesday, denouncing what he called ongoing Indian repression against unarmed protesters in Kashmir.
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