A new bombshell Reuters report has confirmed that India and Pakistan were each about to let missiles fly last month after the standoff over India's brazen bombing raid inside Pakistani airspace, resulting in a downed Indian pilot. Reuters has cited diplomatic sources to say fingers were on the proverbial button, ready to launch major missile attacks:
At one stage, India threatened to fire at least six missiles at Pakistan, and Islamabad said it would respond with its own missile strikes “three times over”, according to Western diplomats and government sources in New Delhi, Islamabad and Washington.
International diplomats attempting to intervene reportedly feared the nuclear armed rivals were moments away from war over the flashpoint Kashmir region: "there was no suggestion that the missiles involved were anything more than conventional weapons, but they created consternation in official circles in Washington, Beijing and London."
Among the new revelations includes the following exchange between the two countries as Pakistan's army had the recovered Indian pilot in custody:
That evening [Feb. 27], Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval spoke over a secure line to the head of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Asim Munir, to tell him India was not going to back off its new campaign of “counter terrorism” even after the pilot’s capture, an Indian government source and a Western diplomat with knowledge of the conversations told Reuters in New Delhi.
Doval also relayed India intended to continue to fight militant groups that Pakistan allowed to "freely operate" from Pakistani soil.
During the exchange of communications India further threatened to unleash a volley of missiles at Pakistan, according to the report:
A Pakistani government minister and a Western diplomat in Islamabad separately confirmed a specific Indian threat to use six missiles on targets inside Pakistan. They did not specify who delivered the threat or who received it, but the minister said Indian and Pakistani intelligence agencies “were communicating with each other during the fight, and even now they are communicating with each other”.
Pakistan said it would counter any Indian missile attacks with many more launches of its own, the minister told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Pakistani minister had responded, according to Reuters, “We said if you will fire one missile, we will fire three. Whatever India will do, we will respond three times to that.”
Since then, the nuclear armed nations appear to have walked back from the brink, also amidst continued diplomatic interventions by Russia and China who have sought to calm tensions and facilitate negotiations.
Pakistan is currently under international pressure to demonstrate that it will not tolerate the presence of Jaish-e-Mohammed or any other terror group on territory under its administration.
The dangerous February events began after India claimed (and initiated) the right to conduct counter-terror exercises even in disputed border regions, which fast led to latest round of ratcheting tensions, the worst seen in years.