Indian government sources on Thursday said it would not seek consular access to an Indian Air Force pilot in Pakistani custody, saying there will be “no deal” with the neighbouring country.
The officials said that it expected Pakistan to immediately return Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, whose jet was shot down on Wednesday. “India expects the Wing Commander to be treated in a humane manner,” ANI cited sources as saying.
The comments came even as Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Islamabad is willing to consider returning the pilot if it leads to de-escalation of tensions at the border, Geo TV reported. “We are willing to return the captured Indian pilot if it leads to de-escalation and peace,” he said. “We are ready for all positive engagement.”
Qureshi said he had received a dossier from India with information about the Pulwama attack, but was yet to examine it. “I will still say that we will see and examine the dossier with an open heart. I wish they [India] would have sent this dossier earlier. They attacked first and then sent the dossier,” said Qureshi. “If they would have sent the dossier first and sought Pakistan’s answer, there would be no need for an attack.”
The dossier was handed over to the Acting High Commissioner of Pakistan, who was summoned by the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi to lodge a strong protest over the Pakistan Air Force targeting Indian military installations. The dossier contains “specific details” of the involvement of the Jaish-e-Mohammad in the Pulwama attack and the presence of terror outfit’s camps in Pakistan, PTI reported.
The Pakistan Foreign Office said it will review the dossier and probe “any and all legal evidence”. Islamabad will take action against the “credible evidence” provided by India, it added.
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 in “preemptive action”.
Indian officials on Wednesday 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.
Qureshi reiterated that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was willing to hold a dialogue with India. “If Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is ready, Prime Minister Imran Khan is willing to talk to him,” he added.