Pakistani author Fatima Bhutto, the granddaughter of former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and niece of another former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, on Wednesday called on the Pakistan government to release an Indian Air Force pilot in its custody.
India on Wednesday said a pilot was “missing in action” and a MiG 21 fighter jet was lost after Islamabad “targeted military installations on India’s side”. The Pakistani government tweeted a video clip that purportedly showed the pilot, but later deleted the tweet. Pakistan Armed Forces spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor on Wednesday claimed that Wing Commander Abhinandan was under Pakistan’s custody.
“I and many other young Pakistanis have called upon our country to release the captured Indian pilot as a gesture of our commitment to peace, humanity and dignity,” Bhutto wrote in an opinion piece in The New York Times. “We have spent a lifetime at war. I do not want to see Pakistani soldiers die. I do not want to see Indian soldiers die. We cannot be a subcontinent of orphans.” Her aunt Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in 2007.
Bhutto said her generation of Pakistanis have fought for the right to speak were not afraid to speak up for peace. “But our [Pakistan’s] long history with military dictatorships and experience of terrorism and uncertainty means that my generation of Pakistanis have no tolerance, no appetite, for jingoism or war.”
Bhutto said #saynotowar began trending on Twitter in Pakistan, before becoming the top Twitter trend across the world. “I have never seen my country at peace with its neighbor,” she said. “But never before have I seen a war played out between two nuclear-armed states with Twitter accounts.”
Bhutto cited Prime Minister Imran Khan, who in an address to his nation asked if India and Pakistan could afford a miscalculation with the sort of weapons both countries possess. “It is the only moral stand that either country can take,” she said. “Both India and Pakistan have a duty to maintain that profoundly moral stand at a time when hysteria is at a high.”
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated following the Pulwama suicide bombing in which 40 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force were killed. Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed responsibility for the attack. On Tuesday, India said it had carried “non-military preemptive” strikes on a Jaish terror camp across the Line of Control. A day later, both countries claimed it had shot down each others’ fighter jets.