After Pakistan said it shot down two Indian military jets and captured one pilot, tensions have sharply escalated between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
The move comes a day after India said it carried out a “pre-emptive strike” on a terrorist training camp in Pakistan. Islamabad denounced the strike and had vowed to retaliate.
Hostilities between India and Pakistan have mounted since a terror attack killed 40 paramilitary police in India’s Kashmir region on February 14, an attack claimed by a Pakistan-based militant Islamist group.
In a video message on Wednesday, Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister, called for “dialogue” to ease tensions between the countries. “Can we afford miscalculation given the weapons you have and we have?”, Mr Khan asked India.
In conventional terms, India’s armed forces are numerically superior in both troops and equipment, making it likely that they would overpower Pakistan’s defences if New Delhi ordered a large-scale assault.
This imbalance has led Islamabad to build up a stockpile of short and medium-range nuclear-tipped missiles that could be used to destroy and deter invading forces, risking nuclear escalation.
Analysts believe, however, that a limited conventional conflict between the two states is still possible. Mike Pompeo, the US defence secretary, has urged both countries to show restraint.