Pakistan will release captured Indian pilot tomorrow as a peace gesture, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday.
The premier made the announcement while addressing a joint session of the parliament where he briefed members of the Senate and National Assembly on the ongoing situation with arch-rival India.
Pakistan’s desire for de-escalation should not be confused as weakness, he asserted as he thanked the parliamentary opposition for the continued support amid rising tensions with India.
“I reached out to New Delhi after assuming charge as prime minister. I wrote to Narendra Modi and suggested a meeting between the foreign ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. But we did not get a positive response.”
The premier said Islamabad realized that due to the upcoming elections in India, maintaining good ties with Pakistan was not on Modi-led government’s priority. “It was not in Bharatya Janata Party’s (BJP) campaign manifesto. We decided to wait until after India’s general elections. We opened up Kartarpur Corridor as a positive gesture but we feared misadventures.”
“Then the Pulwama attack happened. Within half an hour, India blamed Pakistan for the attack. We had Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman visiting Islamabad. Why would we sabotage an important conference? What could we gain from it?”
PM Imran referred to a televised address where he offered India complete cooperation in Pulwama attack investigation and sought credible intelligence.
“But instead of evidence, India opted for war-hysteria. I want to pay homage to Pakistan’s media for the responsible coverage. Our media did not engage in warmongering.”
No country allows its sovereignty to be attacked. India shared the dossier today, after breaching international laws and attacking Pakistan.
Taking to the floor, Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif heaped praise on at the Pakistan Army and airforce.
“Pakistan is united and the entire nation speaks in one voice,” he said adding that our armed forces will give blow to the enemy.
Shehbaz Sharif said this was an important turn in the history of the country adding that Pakistan retaliated well to counter the Indian aggression.
He said Kashmir was bleeding and the international bodies were silent.
He further said that Pakistan should not attend OIC meetings till the groups condemns atrocities in Kashmir.
Tensions escalated dramatically between Pakistan and India on February 14 when a young man – a native of Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK) – rammed an explosives-laden car into an Indian military convoy, killing at least 44 soldiers. India was quick to blame the state of Pakistan for the suicide bombing.
PM Imran offered every possible help in the investigation, but India turned down the offer and whipped up war hysteria.
On February 26, the Indian Air Force violated Pakistani airspace. The country’s top civil and military leadership declared the violation of airspace by Indian fighter jets “uncalled for aggression” and decided that the country would respond at a “time and place of its choosing”.
On February 27, Pakistan announced it had shot down two Indian fighter jets that attempted to violate its airspace and captured an Indian pilot. The military’s media wing later released a video of the pilot, who introduced himself as Wing Commander Abhinandan bearing service number 27981.
Director-General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor said in a press conference that the armed forces had responsibly retaliated to Indian incursion by strucking a target few miles from an Indian military’s administrative unit to ensure there were no human life or collateral damage.
“We decided to not hit a military target or endanger human life. We did not want to retaliate at the cost of regional peace. We do not want escalation,” he told reporters.
A few hours later, Prime Minister Imran Khan took the nation into confidence over the armed forces’ response. As escalating tensions fuelled concerns of all-out war between nuclear-tipped Pakistan, Imran warned of catastrophic consequences should “better sense” not prevail.
The premier ended his speech with another peace talks offer and cooperation in Pulwama attack investigation to India.