Pentagon urges Pakistan and India to de-escalate tensions

Pentagon urges Pakistan and India to de-escalate tensions
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The Pentagon is urging India and Pakistan to back off future military attacks following the first Indian airstrike into Pakistan since 1971.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanHouse Armed Services chairman expresses confidence in Esper amid aircraft carrier coronavirus crisis Boeing pleads for bailout under weight of coronavirus, 737 fallout Esper's chief of staff to depart at end of January MORE is focused “on de-escalating tensions and urging both of the nations to avoid further military action,” according to a Defense Department statement released Wednesday.

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The Pentagon adds that Shanahan has been in contact with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation Government watchdog: 'No evidence' Pompeo violated Hatch Act with Kansas trips Inspector general fired over leaks had been cleared of wrongdoing before ouster: report MORE, national security adviser John Bolton, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command head Adm. Philip Davidson, and U.S. Central Command head Gen. Joseph Votel “regarding India-Pakistan tensions.”

India on Tuesday ordered an airstrike over the disputed Kashmir region targeting the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) fighter group. The strike, which India claimed killed "a very large number of ... terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis," was the first major state-sanctioned military action in Kashmir by either side since 1999.

The airstrike was in retaliation for a Feb. 14 suicide car bombing allegedly conducted by JeM that killed at least 40 Indian officials, according to the foreign secretary's statement. 

Earlier Wednesday, Pakistan and India both said they had shot down each other's warplanes over Indian-controlled Kashmir.

The U.S. military, which sells weapons to India and views the nation as a strategic partner in the region, has taken a hard line on Pakistan under the Trump administration. President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinneapolis erupts for third night, as protests spread, Trump vows retaliation Stocks open mixed ahead of Trump briefing on China The island that can save America MORE, in his August 2017 speech announcing a new strategy for the Afghanistan war, accused the country of providing “safe havens” for Taliban fighters.

And last year Trump announced a suspension of aid to Pakistan — including $300 million from the Pentagon — over its perceived unwillingness to take firm action against militants in the country. 

Trump in his first tweet of 2018, said Pakistan was rewarding the U.S. for its aid with “nothing but lies & deceit.” 

The administration has attempted to reset its tense relationship with Islamabad, however, with Pompeo in September meeting with the country's new prime minister, Imran Khan.