Long-standing tensions between nuclear powers India and Pakistan escalated this week after each country said it carried out airstrikes against the other, prompting concerns over the potential outbreak of a war in South Asia.
It puts Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a delicate position: He likely wants to respond in a way that makes it appear as if India has the upper hand in this week's altercations — to boost his and his party's standing ahead of elections — while at the same time preventing the outbreak of another war, which could destabilize the region.
"Modi will seek to capitalize on his strongman image and national security credentials to boost the (Bharatiya Janata Party) ahead of upcoming elections," political consultancy Eurasia Group said in a Wednesday note.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged both countries on Tuesday to "exercise restraint" and avoid an "escalation." France, Australia, China, which is a close ally of Islamabad and a major investor in the country, and the European Union also called for restraint.
While the countries have had a contentious relationship since 1947, this week's escalation reached heights not seen in recent years.