Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday called for talks with India to defuse tensions between the two countries and offered cooperation in investigation into the February 14 Pulwama terror attack .
In a televised address, Mr. Khan also warned against further escalation of the situation. “With the kind of weapons that we have, can we [India and Pakistan] afford any miscalculation? Should we not think about the consequences of an escalation at this point in time? If it escalates, then it will neither be in my control nor [Narendra] Modi’s. This is why I am inviting you again: we are ready to cooperate in Pulwama investigation, dialogue on terrorism. Better sense should prevail. We should resolve our issues through dialogue.”
He added that Pakistan “understands the pain of those who lost their loved ones in the Pulwama attack because Pakistan, too, has lost 70,000 of our own... We offered to cooperate with India. We said this because it is not in the interest of Pakistan for its soil to be used for terrorism anywhere in the world.”
Regarding Pakistan Air Force’s violation of Indian air space on Wednesday morning, Mr. Khan said: “Pakistan was left with no choice but to retaliate after Indian aggression but where do we go from here? Now, I am talking to India: we need to use our brains and decide wisely.”
Earlier in the day, Pakistan’s Foreign Office issued a statement claiming that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) took down two Indian aircraft inside the Pakistani airspace. “This was not a retaliation to continued Indian belligerence. Pakistan has taken strikes at [a] non-military target, avoiding human loss and collateral damage. [The] sole purpose being to demonstrate our right, will and capability for self-defence,” read the statement.
Major General Asif Ghafoor, Director General (DG) Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), also tweeted about the strike: “In response to PAF strikes this morning as released by [the] MoFA, [the] IAF crossed [the] LOC. [The] PAF shot down two Indian aircraft inside [the] Pakistani airspace.” He said one of the aircraft fell inside Pakistan-held Kashmir while the other fell inside the Indian side. “One Indian pilot arrested by troops on ground while two in the area.” He later tweeted that there is only one pilot in Pakistan Army’s custody.
Addressing a press conference, the DG ISPR said Wednesday’s action was not retaliation “in its true sense” because “we don’t want escalation at the cost of peace in this region”.
“We only wanted to reiterate that Pakistan has the capability and capacity to retaliate,” said Gen. Ghafoor. “We don’t want war. We do not want to claim any sort of victory because nobody is a winner in a war; humanity is the only loser.”
Gen. Ghafoor added that nothing is resolved through a war or military means in the world so both countries need to initiate dialogue in order to resolve the ongoing crisis. He asked India to think about this offer from the state of Pakistan with cool head. “The route to peace goes through dialogue. Both countries have the capability and capacity but war is actually the failure of policy, which India needs to understand.”