Explainer: The latest updates from the Indo-Pak border

The Indian Air Force (IAF) shot down a Pakistani drone on the Rajasthan border and Pakistan declared a crackdown on terrorists on its soil.

On Monday, responding to international pressure after the Pulwama attack, Pakistan announced a series of actions that it believes will help curb extremism within its borders. At the same time, an IAF fighter jet shot down an unmanned aerial object.

These moves follow escalating Indo-Pak tensions after the Pulwama attack that the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), a Pakistan-based group, carried out.

In retaliation, the IAF carried out air strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) on JeM terror camps in Balakot.

Those strikes resulted in an aerial combat or a “dogfight” between the IAF and Pakistan Air Force, leading to an IAF pilot’s capture in Pakistan.

Pakistan released Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman on March 1.

Pakistani drone shot

The Times of India reports that the IAF scrambled Sukhoi Su-30MKI jets from two air bases—Suratgarh and Nal—to investigate, following an airspace violation around 11:30 am.

TOI quotes “a source” who said, “A Sukhoi-30MKI’s air-to-air missile brought down the unidentified flying object, which was flying at the speed of a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) or drone.”

The source added that IAF officers couldn’t recover the wreckage for examination as it landed on Pakistan’s side of the border.

This is the second drone India has shot down since tensions on the Indo-Pak border became high. Previously, it had shot another Pakistani drone early morning in Gujarat’s Kutch district.

As the two countries were riding the peak of Indo-Pak agitations, the IAF immediately took over the incident, without informing even the local police of the developments.

Although these drone shootings have caused no major ripples in the government or media, they show that armed forces of both countries are displaying their individual might and readiness for military action.

Barter trade resumes at LoC

Reports say that India and Pakistan have resumed their barter trade at the LoC on Tuesday.

Trade was initially halted because of the rising military tension, especially around Uri, a border town where most of this trade is carried out.

Business Today quotes Riyaz Ahmad Malik, an official in the India-administered region of Kashmir, said that trade reopened some firing in the region had ceased.

He added that 35 trucks drove from Uri to India and Pakistan respectively. At the LoC, trade is carried out by barter and usually goods like spices, cloth, and fruits are exchanged.

Pawan Ahmad, president of a local trading organisation in the area, also said, “This trade is heavily dependent on the trust factor.”

Crackdown on terrorists in Pakistan

On Monday, Pakistan announced that it will freeze assets linked to terrorist groups on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) list.

In an order, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Pakistan said it will seize and freeze any assets or property of “entities and individuals” listed on “the Sanctions Committee of the United Nations Security Council”.

The UNSC list in question is one containing known extremist groups and people based all over the world.

The order says that when a property is seized or frozen, it cannot be used, transferred, converted, disposed of or removed unless specifically authorised by an agency.

Moreover, agents have to file reports for the assets seized, which can include bank deposits, objects in lockers, and profits from businesses.

The MFA said this Freezing and Seizure Order 2019 intends to “streamline the procedure for implementation of Security Council Sanctions”.

India has previously criticised Pakistan on this; it has said that even after it gave the neighbouring country evidence of terrorist operation within its borders, the latter failed to curb radicalism.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said, “Pakistan has taken no concrete actions to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism on its soil.”

Dismissing’s India’s ‘fabrications’

While this is a move in the right direction, the Pakistani parliament also passed a resolution condemning India’s recent aggression.

This resolution said India made “self-serving and fictitious claims” of killing terrorists at JeM camps and that on-ground facts contradict India’s story.

The resolution added that Pakistan supports its armed forces and strongly condemns the “reprisal attacks on Kashmiris in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir and in several states of India”.

It also condemned the Indian government’s mass arrests of Kashmiri political leaders, namely separatists, last month.

While there is no worrying military escalation between the two countries, the situation between them remains tense and friable.

Rhea Arora is a staff writer at Qrius

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