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.
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.
With #Bollywoodcondemning the #Pulwana terror attack and not releasing films in #Pakistan besides #banning all Pakistani #artistes from working in #India, National award-winning actress Vidya Balan supports the #ban.— Noorani Tejani (@NooraniTejani) February 25, 2019
What have artistes got to do with #terrorists? pic.twitter.com/3yCyk47CJy
#NoWaterForPakistan— Ramapriya Sampathkumaran (@ramapriya1989) February 21, 2019
One after the other master stroke to pakisthan . Blood and water can never flow together. This is 56". More to come.
Revenge Revenge Revenge.#IndiaWantsRevenge pic.twitter.com/kYIg6aeTQt
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.
Pakistanis reaction when they troll india— Zalmi_ (@k3wlbwoyy) February 26, 2019
Pakistanis reaction when indians try to troll them pic.twitter.com/Fpf430rzjf
Finally a sensible Bollywood star tweeting in favor of Pakistan https://t.co/VUqVHrVvNs— Nauman (@iNaumanDogar) February 18, 2019
Several Indian celebrities, including cricket and Bollywood stars, joined the chorus of expressing support for military action against Pakistan.
Yes, let’s talk with the separatists. Yes, let’s talk with Pakistan. But this time conversation can’t be on the table, it has to be in a battle ground. Enough is enough. 18 CRPF personnel killed in IED blast on Srinagar-Jammu highway https://t.co/aa0t0idiHY via @economictimes— Gautam Gambhir (@GautamGambhir) February 14, 2019
An Humble appeal to our national news channels. Plz don’t invite any Pakistani or Indian terrorist sympathisers to spew venom against our dear motherland . Those rabid dogs are not allowed in our homes . Let those maggots die in their own filth .— Paresh Rawal (@SirPareshRawal) February 17, 2019
#KanganaRanaut in India - anyone talking peace should be slapped on the streets.#KanganaRanaut in Pakistan - anyone on the streets of Rawalpindi should watch my movie at Cinepax, Jinnah Park.https://t.co/BTouekJv0w pic.twitter.com/cwD4pZIjdx— Akash Banerjee (@akashbanerjee) February 19, 2019
Most Pakistani celebrities and media personalities however, kept urging for calm and called for peace.
WHAT?!!! But aren’t you supposed to be a Good Will ambassador for @UNICEF? Screen shot this everyone and next time she speaks up for peace and goodwill. Let’s remind her of this hypocrisy. https://t.co/Jew88bMtYv— Armeena Khan (@ArmeenaRK) February 26, 2019
War Does Not DEtermine who is right ..Only who is left— Fahad Mustafa (@fahadmustafa26) February 26, 2019
Say no to war🙏🇵🇰
Anyone who is encouraging war between Pakistan and India should be taken out of their house and be forced to fight the war themselves. Tweet karna bohat asaan hai, but for once think of the all the soldiers that die unnecessarily because of this. #PakistanZindabad 🇵🇰— Zaid Ali (@Za1d) February 26, 2019
But not all Pakistan celebrities were rooting for peace.
If you find any Indian celebrity on billboards of Pakistan .. then do what our PAF has done bring them down 🇵🇰.......no more Indian 🇮🇳cultural bombs— Shaan Shahid (@mshaanshahid) February 27, 2019
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."
Anyone who spreads war, chants for war and cheers for war, is ugly. https://t.co/KJZlV00YSM— Rabia Butt (@Iamrabiabutt) February 26, 2019
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.
I visited mountain area of Jabba 25 km away from Balakot today in KPK where Indian Air Force dropped bombs yesterday I found one dead body at the spot and it was a crow pic.twitter.com/FmiMQZ60DK— Hamid Mir (@HamidMirPAK) February 27, 2019
If #SurgicalStrike2 happened for real why didn't Modi govt release the video footage yet?— Trolu Kejri (@TroluKejri) February 26, 2019
After you plant billions of trees and IAF destroys 45 of them 😡😡😡 pic.twitter.com/ULKskfFx5d— Ali (@AleyFarooqq) February 26, 2019
Few pictures of Pakistani Prime Minister planting terrorists.. pic.twitter.com/dWqO6XYC0u— Muhammad Umair Tariq (@UmairTariq90) February 26, 2019
Indian media is showing fake footage as #SurgicalStrike2 This is actually a footage from 2016 airshow of Pakistan Airforce in Islamabad. You can watch it on YouTube pic.twitter.com/xbLSjcuypO pic.twitter.com/n6ddiIWZ8U— Urwa (@urwaEman) February 26, 2019
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.
Btw where are all #BollywoodCelebs & #Indian cricketers who were acting like cheerleaders yesterday after #fakesurgicalstrike2.i was surprised to see their #Jingoism & #warmongering. We should ban all indian content in #Pakistan— Dr.Azfar Aziz (@AzfarAziz5) February 27, 2019
#PakistanStrikesBack #PakistanZindabad #SayNoToWar https://t.co/mCBGNOAsLd
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.
Dear Indian Air Force, I honestly feel sorry for you, how your nation disowns you after being captured on a war-field.— Safeer Ansari (@safeeransari) February 27, 2019
Now I have an idea about the struggle you've to go through to live in a country like that.
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.