LAHORE, Pakistan — The Canadian government this week issued a travel advisory to its citizens to avoid all unnecessary travel to certain parts of Pakistan. The advisory comes amidst growing hostilities between India and Pakistan, two nuclear-armed neighbours.
Meanwhile, military trucks carrying troops and equipment could be seen moving along the Canal Road in the heart of Lahore, the capital city of the province of the Punjab, located on the Indian border.
Many passenger flights to India and Pakistan were cancelled or rerouted. Pakistani air space was closed for almost 48 hours amid rumours that India was preparing to fire rockets into Pakistan.
Despite the rising tensions, the atmosphere in Lahore remained remarkably calm.
Mohammad Junaid, a resident of Lahore, was not concerned.
“For us, hostility from India is a part of life,” Junaid said. “The Indians think just because of their massive size they can push us around. They are a huge power, but we have a very strong military and they can stop any Indian attack.”
Abdul Mahroof Khan, who works in Lahore but hails from and still has family members in Kashmir, was frustrated by the developments.
“The Indians have been repressing my people for more than 50 years,” Khan said. “They have killed thousands of them, and when the local population rebels and retaliates, they blame Pakistan.”
Naseer Ahmad, a worker at a small local business, spoke about the impact the crisis was having on his livelihood.
“People naturally spend less. The phone at my business did not ring for almost a day. We lost a lot of money,” Ahmad said.
The recent round of hostility started when, on Feb. 14, a suicide bomber killed 40 Indian soldiers in the disputed region of Kashmir. When a group based in Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack, India decided to act.
The offer by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to investigate and take severe action against the perpetrators if India could provide any credible and actionable intelligence was ignored.
India proceeded to bomb areas within Pakistan and, in retaliation, the Pakistani air force not only downed Indian fighter jets, but also captured a pilot. The pilot was subsequently returned as a gesture of goodwill by Pakistan in an attempt to de-escalate the crisis.
Despite the return of the pilot, most of the Indian media insisted that the government keep the pressure up on Pakistan. India continues to shell various places within Pakistan.
India has been accused of gross human rights violation in Kashmir. Indian Prime Minister Narinder Modhi, was accused of not doing enough during the massacres of Muslims in Gujrat.
His BJP, which is known to harbour extremely negative views about Pakistan, is facing a re-election in May, and Modhi’s future might very well depend on how people in India think about victory and defeat in this conflict.
A complete timeline of the crises can be seen here.