Indians celebrate after the Indian Air Force's airstrike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist camp in Pakistan, in Mumbai, on Feb. 26. Photo: Himanshu Bhatt/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In retaliation for the Feb. 14 terrorist attack in the Pulwama district of Kashmir, which killed 44 Indian security personnel, the Indian Air Force (IAF) conducted strikes on Tuesday against an alleged terrorist training facility and madrassa complex in the Pakistani town of Balakot.

Why it matters: The operation was the first cross-border sortie by the IAF since the 1971 India-Pakistan war. Escalating tensions have sparked fears of a standoff between the nuclear-armed rivals.

Details: Although the facts are in dispute, the airstrikes apparently targeted Jaish-e-Mohammed, a UN-sanctioned terrorist group that claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack, among others in India. Both the Pulwama attack, the bloodiest such incident in the disputed territory of Kashmir in over three decades, and the strikes on Balakot, which lies outside the region, marked escalations from previous incidents.

What to watch: In a week when the U.S. is focused on the Trump-Kim summit, Venezuela, and Taliban negotiations in Qatar, other regional powers will likely take the lead in restraining the two sides:

Pakistan, after claiming that the strikes hit nothing but trees and soil, is likely to convene an emergency parliamentary session tomorrow to condemn India’s action. India hopes that Pakistan’s reaction will be all fury but no fire.

Yes, but: Electoral politics in the lead-up to India's May elections is likely to produce chest-thumping from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government and the IAF that could provoke a more direct Pakistani reaction.

The bottom line: Indian observers hope that the enhanced military capabilities demonstrated in India's attack will deter future Pakistani terrorism. But that seems unlikely, as Pakistan relies on militant proxies and the world's fastest-growing nuclear arsenal to counterbalance India. The challenge for New Delhi will be mitigating terrorism without inciting reactions that could prove disastrous to India's prospects as an emerging power.

James Schwemlein is a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former U.S. State Department official.

Go deeper

9 hours ago - World

China-Iran deal envisions massive investments from Beijing

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

China and Iran have negotiated a deal that would see massive investments flow into Iran, oil flow out, and collaboration increase on defense and intelligence.

Why it matters: If the proposals become reality, Chinese cash, telecom infrastructure, railways and ports could offer new life to Iran’s sanctions-choked economy — or, critics fear, leave it inescapably beholden to Beijing.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 13,048,249 — Total deaths: 571,685 — Total recoveries — 7,215,865Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 3,353,348— Total deaths: 135,524 — Total recoveries: 1,031,856 — Total tested: 40,282,176Map.
  3. World: WHO head: There will be no return to the "old normal" for foreseeable future — Hong Kong Disneyland closing due to surge.
  4. States: Houston mayor calls for two-week shutdownCalifornia orders sweeping rollback of open businesses — Cuomo says New York will use formula to determine if reopening schools is safe.
  5. Education: Los Angeles schools' move to online learning could be a nationwide tipping point.

House Judiciary Committee releases transcript of Geoffrey Berman testimony

Geoffrey Berman. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee on Monday released the transcript of its closed-door interview with Geoffrey Berman, the former top federal prosecutor in Manhattan who was forced out by Attorney General Bill Barr last month.

Why it matters: House Democrats have seized on Berman's testimony, in which he claimed the attorney general sought to "entice" him into resigning so that he could be replaced by SEC chairman Jay Clayton, to bolster allegations that the Justice Department has been politicized under Barr.