Not long ago, India and Pakistan appeared to be on a war footing. On Sept. 18, terrorists besieged an Indian army base in India-administered Kashmir, killing 19 soldiers in one of the worst single attacks on the Indian military in decades. New Delhi accused Pakistani militants of orchestrating the assault—the same allegation they made after an attack on an Indian air force base in Punjab earlier this year.
After months of shrill rhetoric and saber-rattling, the subcontinent was aflame with war fever. India’s notoriously bellicose media called on the country to take up arms against Pakistan. Politicians from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party railed against policies of restraint. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s military vowed to defend every inch of territory, no matter the cost.
Then, just 11 days later, India announced it had launched a “surgical strike” along the Line of Control in Kashmir, killing multiple Pakistani militants. Islamabad rejected New Delhi’s claim that it had struck militants, setting off a fresh round of threats.