Past two days saw a flurry of military activity between nuclear-armed arch rivals and neighbours, India and Pakistan, but the dynamics between the two countries' social media users had already been operating on a war-footing for two weeks.

People light firecrackers to celebrate after Indian authorities said their jets conducted air strikes on militant camps in Pakistani territory, in New Delhi, India, February 26, 2019.
People light firecrackers to celebrate after Indian authorities said their jets conducted air strikes on militant camps in Pakistani territory, in New Delhi, India, February 26, 2019. (Reuters)

Tensions between India and Pakistan have soared during the past two weeks. The situation began with the deadly February 14 suicide bomb attack in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Pakistan-based Jaish-e e Mohammad group claimed the attack. The JeM is outlawed in Pakistan where authorities have already frozen its assets and detained its leadership. 

New Delhi blamed Islamabad for a “direct role” in th attack and vowed action, but did not provide the evidence that Pakistan asked New Delhi to share.

Pakistan condemned the attack and offered cooperation on investigating any actionable evidence provided by India and urged to resolve with dialogue all differences between the two countries, the root of which lies in the Kashmir dispute.

As condemnations began pouring in over the Indian troopers’ loss of lives, India’s local media and social media users expressed support for their armed forces and some upped the ante calling for action, specifically surgical strikes, to be taken against Pakistan and a ban on cultural exchanges between the two countries.

But there was a stark difference in most of the posts by the Pakistani social media users as in there was a flurry of memes and humourous posts released on the situation between the two countries.

Several Indian celebrities, including cricket and Bollywood stars, joined the chorus of expressing support for military action against Pakistan.

Most Pakistani celebrities and media personalities however, kept urging for calm and called for peace.

But not all Pakistan celebrities were rooting for peace.

India, on February 25 launched air strikes in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Balakot area which straddles the border with Pakistan-administered Kashmir, saying it had targeted a “terror camp” operated by the JeM. Many in India were celebrating what they called the "surgical strike."

Terming India’s border violation an act of aggression, Pakistan refuted India’s claim saying it had foiled India’s attempts and released pictures of the targeted site, a heavily forested area with a crater from the bomb and no signs of people in the vicinity.

The next day the air forces of both countries again engaged in a cat and mouse game, that resulted in LoC violations from both sides. 

During the aerial skirmish, Pakistan said it downed two Indian jets while a Indian military helicopter crashed in the vicinity on the Indian side of the border. 

India also claimed to have hit a Pakistani jet, a claim that was denied by Islamabad. Some asked India for proof.

One of the Indian jets that was destroyed in Pakistani airspace resulted in the Indian pilot landing on Pakistan-administered Kashmir’s territory.

Social media video showed Pakistani military personnel rescuing the pilot from enraged locals of the areas that had endured shelling from Indian forces only a few hours ago. 

Throughout these developments Pakistani meme factories kept churning out their content.

Another leaked video showed the pilot being questioned for identification by Pakistani military personnel and a third video later released showed him thank the Pakistani military for its treatment.

After initial reports on India media denied any losses the Indian foreign ministry later acknowledged that a jet was lost and that they were ascertaining Pakistani claims of having an Indian pilot in custody.

Many in India joined their Pakistani counterparts in calling for peace and their activities led to the #SayNoYoWar being the top trend on India’s twittersphere.

Meanwhile, Pakistani twitter users continued to deliver fresh memes on the situation.

Source: TRT World