India’s army said Thursday it carried out overnight “surgical strikes” on what it described as terrorist bases across the country’s de facto border with Pakistan.
Indian military and government officials said Indian forces crossed the line of control that separates the Indian- and Pakistani-governed parts of Kashmir to hit militant camps. Pakistan’s military denied there was an intrusion from India, saying Indian troops fired from their side of the frontier.
A day later, Indian and Pakistani newspapers carried sweeping headlines on their front pages giving their take on the situation.
“India strikes,” read the front page of The Indian Express Friday in bold letters above a photo of families it said were leaving for safer areas in the northern Indian state of Punjab.
Pakistan’s Express Tribune front page said, “Surgical farce blows up in India’s face,” with photos of soldiers in uniform carrying a flag-draped coffin of a Pakistani soldier it said was killed in the strikes.
The Times of India wrote in an editorial Friday that India was within its rights to “strike back at terror launchpads” following a militant assault on an Indian army installation on Sept. 18 that killed 18 soldiers.
The Hindustan Times wrote in an editorial titled in the paper as “A befitting response” that “inflicting diplomatic and economic cost on Islamabad was never going to be enough.”
Pakistani newspaper The Nation called the Indian strike “self-destructive lunacy.” It said in an editorial Friday: “This attack was carried out for one purpose only, to quench a bloodthirsty constituency that had been baying for war.”
Express, an Urdu-language daily, recommended in an editorial a robust response from Pakistan. “Our government should give a strong response to India on every front. The enemy should be told that Pakistan has the ability to respond to any kind of aggression,” it said.
Both sides warned of the consequences of an armed conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbors.
The Indian Express said India had opened a “new front” in its battle against Pakistan-based terrorists. “Yet, this is certainly no full stop, a new situation is here, and Thursday may be its Day 1.”
Calling the strike “a dangerous escalation,” Pakistani English-language newspaper The Express Tribune asked for restraint on both sides. “If Pakistan is attacked by India it will respond in appropriate measure, but we hope and trust that point will not be reached and that cool heads and steady hands will ultimately prevail,” it said in an editorial Friday.
Ram Madhav, general secretary of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party wrote in an opinion piece in The Indian Express that Pakistan “didn’t realize it was dealing with a different leader and a different government.” Mr. Modi came to power in 2014.
“Dial back on the hyperbole Mr. Modi before you talk India—and Pakistan into something both are going to regret,” warned The Express Tribune in an editorial.
The Times of India wrote in its editorial that it was time for “Pakistan to head off the path of confrontation.”
“If it can forswear terror, it will find New Delhi more than willing to talk to it on any issue it wants,” it said.