21:54 GMT27 October 2020
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    Tensions between South Asian nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan spiked this week after Pakistan reportedly shot down a pair of Indian Air Force warplanes which flew into Pakistani-controlled territory in Kashmir on Wednesday following a terrorist attack on an Indian army convoy earlier this month.

    Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has suggested that the country's special forces should have the right to carry out operations against terrorist leaders in neighbouring Pakistan, just as the US did when it launched an operation to kill al-Qaeda* leader Osama bin Laden in 2011.

    "I remember when US Navy Seals went to Abbottabad to kill Osama bin Laden, then why can't India?" Jaitley said Wednesday, as quoted by The Asian Age newspaper.

    "This used to be only an imagination, a wish, a frustration and disappointment. But it's possible today," Jaitley, who previously served as India's defence minister, warned.

    New Delhi is demanding that Islamabad extradite the leaders of several terrorist groups thought to reside in Pakistan, including Masood Azhar, leader of the Jaish-e-Mohammed* terrorist group, and Hafiz Saeed, co-founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba* extremists. New Delhi has accused these groups of carrying out multiple terrorist attacks on Indian territory, and charged Pakistan with harbouring the jihadists. Pakistan has denied the charges and refused to comply with India's demands.

    On Wednesday, the Pakistani military claimed to have downed two Indian warplanes flying over its airspace over the disputed region of Kashmir. A day earlier, Indian jets crossed the border to bomb a Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Pakistani-controlled territory. India believes the group is responsible for a deadly attack on an Indian military convoy in Kashmir earlier this month, which killed over 40 troops, and justified the strikes by claiming Islamabad had proven unable or unwilling to act "to destroy terrorist infrastructure." Pakistan blasted India for violating its territorial integrity.

    Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader believed responsible for a series of deadly attacks against US civilian and military targets throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, including the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington, DC in 2001, was killed during a special operation by US special forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan on 2 May 2011. Pakistani authorities were not alerted to the raid, and only scrambled F-16s after the US strike team had left the compound where bin Laden was holed up. The compound was situated in a suburb housing many retired military officers, with bin Laden's residency leading to considerable embarrassment for Pakistan's intelligence services in the aftermath of the operation to kill him.

    In the 1980s, Moscow accused Pakistan of harbouring multiple Mujahedeen groups, including bin Laden, in their war against the Soviet-backed government in neighbouring Afghanistan.

    *Terrorist groups outlawed in Russia and many other countries.


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