Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said he hoped that “saner counsels” prevail between the governments of India and Pakistan as the tensions between the two countries has escalated recently, PTI reported. Singh said the country was grappling with another crisis of the “mad rush of mutual self-destruction” that plagues India and Pakistan.

India and Pakistan on Wednesday claimed that they had shot down each others’ fighter jets, a day after the Indian Air Force had struck a Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camp in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. India said Pakistan had attempted to target military installations in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday and confirmed a pilot of its Air Force was missing in action after the operation.

Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman is currently in the custody of Pakistan’s air force. Delhi has demanded his safe and immediate return.

Singh was on Wednesday was presented the first “PV Narasimha Rao National leadership and lifetime achievement award” by former President Pranab Mukherjee. “I do hope that saner counsels will prevail between leadership of the two countries and we will get back to the economic development, which is the basic requirement of India and Pakistan,” Singh said at the award ceremony in Delhi.

“Our basic problem is to get rid of growing poverty, immunisation and disease, which still affects millions and millions of citizens of the two countries,” he added.

Mukherjee praised Singh’s role as the finance minister in the Narasimha Rao government, adding that Singh and Rao will be remembered for the “liberalisation of the Indian economy during the early 1990s”.