Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said Pakistan was ready for a dialogue on terror and cautioned against war, saying they are miscalculated.
“We understand the grief that you have suffered in Pulwama and are ready for a probe and dialogue,” Khan said in his address to the nation. “Let’s sit together and settle this with talks.” Khan said it was not in Pakistan’s interest that its soil be used for terrorism.
On an Indian air strike across the border, Khan said Pakistan “did not respond right away”. “It would have been irresponsible to cause casualties on their side,” he said. “All wars are miscalculated and no one knows where they lead to. World War I was supposed to end in weeks, it took six years. Similarly, the war on terrorism was not supposed to last 17 years,” Dawn quoted him as saying.
Khan asked if both India and Pakistan could afford a miscalculation, saying it won’t be in the control of Prime Minister Narendra Modi or his given the sort of weapons both countries possess. Khan said Pakistan was ready for a dialogue on terror. “Better sense should prevail,” he said.
Khan said Pakistan shooting down India’s fighter jets were only intended to convey “that if you can come into our country, we can do the same”. He said: “Two of their MiGs were shot down. From here, it is imperative that we use our heads and act with wisdom.”
Reports of both India and Pakistan shooting down each other’s fighter jets emerged on Wednesday, a day after New Delhi said its Air Force had struck a terror camp in Pakistani territory.
On Wednesday, Indian officials said Pakistani jets had violated the Line of Control and dropped bombs in Jammu and Kashmir, while Islamabad claimed its jets had struck across the Line of Control from “Pakistani airspace”, and that it had shot down two Indian jets.
India added that it had shot down a Pakistani aircraft, during which one Indian pilot had gone missing. Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India is investigating Pakistan’s claims that the pilot was in their custody.
Islamabad also released a video showing a person, allegedly an arrested Indian pilot, identifying himself as “Wing Commander Abhinandan”. Scroll.in has not independently verified the authenticity of the video.
Hours later, Pakistan armed forces spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor clarified that its Air Force had detained only one Indian Air Force pilot and identified him as Wing Commander Abhinandan. Ghafoor said the Indian pilot was being treated in accordance with military ethics.
Most of Northern India is under high alert. India has shut down airports in some northern cities for civilian traffic. All international flights exiting Indian airspace north of Mumbai are also being re-routed through West Asia.
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Pakistan armed forces spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor had on Tuesday accused India of lying about the strikes and casualties and said Islamabad will react differently and surprise Delhi in retaliation.
The ties between India and Pakistan have been strained since February 14, when 40 CRPF personnel were killed in a suicide bomb attack by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed.
On February 25, Imran Khan had urged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “give peace a chance” in the aftermath of the suicide attack that took place in Pulwama. Khan reiterated that he would act immediately if India gives “actionable intelligence” on the attack. The previous day, Modi had challenged him to stand true to his words and act against terror outfits.
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