Pakistan on Wednesday threatened to boycott a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation scheduled for this week in the United Arab Emirates if India participates in the event.
India has been invited to the inaugural plenary of the foreign ministers’ conclave of the OIC in Abu Dhabi on March 1 and March 2. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will attend the meeting as the “guest of honour”. The OIC, founded in 1969, consists of 57 member states, with 40 countries being Muslim majority countries.
Islamabad’s stand comes as Pakistani jets allegedly violated Indian airspace, and claimed to have shot down two Indian Air Force aircraft. India has refuted the claim of its jet being downed. Pakistan has also claimed that it captured an IAF pilot. India, on the other hand, says it downed a Pakistani F-16 jet.
The Pakistani violation was in retaliation to an Indian Air Force strike in Balakote, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan on Tuesday, to eliminate a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist camp.
“I have no reservations with OIC or any other Islamic country,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told Geo TV. “My reservations are with Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj’s attendance at the OIC meeting. If Swaraj attends the meeting then I will not participate in it.”
The Pakistani foreign minister said his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu had telephoned him offering support. “Cavusoglu clarified that Turkey is fully standing behind Pakistani people and government. The Turkish foreign minister said the prayers and cooperation of Turks are with their Pakistani brothers and sisters,” he said.
Quoting Cavusoglu, Qureshi said India has committed aggression against a “brother Islamic country” and had attacked a founding member of the OIC. He also added that Turkey had assured Pakistan that it will oppose Swaraj’s invitation.
On Tuesday, Qureshi said he had spoken to his UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to express his reservations over invitation to Swaraj.
The OIC on Tuesday had condemned India’s “incursion and aerial violation” in Pakistan. The group expressed deep concern over the heightened tension between the two neighbours and called for immediate de-escalation in the region, according to the Pakistan Foreign Office. “It urged India and Pakistan to exercise restraint and avoid any steps that would endanger peace and security in the region,” the group tweeted.
Earlier on Wednesday, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that the Indian Air Force shot down a Pakistani Air Force fighter aircraft, after Islamabad targeted military installations on India’s side of the border. The Pakistani government had tweeted a video clip that purportedly showed the pilot, but later deleted the tweet. Scroll.in has not independently verified the authenticity of the video. In the video, copies of which are still available on social media, the person, with a bloody face, identifies himself as Wing Commander Abhinandan.