ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced to release the captured Indian pilot on Friday as a peace gesture.
Addressing the joint session of the parliament in Islamabad, the Prime Minister said this is a first step towards deescalating.
Prime Minister urged the international community to play its due role to contain further escalation between Pakistan and India.
He, however, warned that any escalation on part of India will force Pakistan to retaliate in self-defense.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said Pakistan is a peace loving country and desires peace and stability in the region.
He said Pakistan is making efforts to deescalate the current tension.
The Prime Minister said he tried to contact the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last evening because escalation is not in our interest, nor in India’s.
He said that he will also talk to the Turkish President later today to ask him to play his role in reducing tension He said the foreign minister also contacted with other world leaders on the current situation.
The Prime Minister, however, made it clear that our desire for de-escalation should not be misconstrued as our weakness. He pointed out that our armed forces are battle hardened and they are fully prepared to respond to any aggression.
The Prime Minister said that the entire Pakistani nation is united in the face of external threat. He also commended other political parties for showing unity at this critical juncture.
Imran Khan said strain in relations between Pakistan and India is due to unresolved Kashmir dispute. He said India needs retrospection as to why a 19-year old becomes a suicide bomber. He said an indigenous movement is going on in Occupied Kashmir and India is committing oppression to stifle Kashmiris’ struggle for right to self-determination.
He said the entire populace of Occupied Kashmir has turned against India due to its oppressive tactics. The Prime Minister believed that there should be a debate within India to resolve the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and to end war mongering.
Imran Khan said it is unfortunate that Indian media is also adding fuel to the fire by creating war hysteria. He appreciated Pakistani media for demonstrating responsibility in the current tensions between Pakistan and India.
The Prime Minister once again stated that Pakistan had nothing to gain from Pulwama incident, especially when Saudi Crown Prince was in Pakistan on official visit.
The Prime Minister recalled his earlier offer of investigations into the Pulwama incident if India provided any actionable evidence.
He said Pakistan’s National Action Plan does not give any space to terror activities.
The Prime Minister regretted that the Indian side resorted to war mongering.
He said Pakistan today received a dossier from India, which should have been shared immediately after the Pulwama incident. Imran Khan said Pakistan understands that India is pursuing the path of tension out of political compulsions.
Referring to the response of Pakistan following Indian airspace violation, the Prime Minister said it was only aimed at showing Pakistan’s capability and will to defend the motherland. He said we did not hit any target and our actions avoided collateral damage and civilian causalities. He said two Indian jets were shot down when they tried to violate Pakistan’s airspace.
Stressing the importance of dialogue, Imran Khan said world’s most powerful country, the United States is also holding dialogue with Afghan Taliban and Pakistan is facilitating these talks. He said India should also come to the dialogue table and resolve issues through talks.
The Prime Minister recalled his offer of taking two steps forward for the sake of peace, if India takes one. He also referred to Pakistan’s initiative to open Kartarpur Corridor aimed at lowering tensions.
He regretted that the message emanating from the other side on this initiative is not encouraging.
Opposition Leader in the National Assembly and PML-N Chief Shahbaz Sharif offered full cooperation to the government to send a strong message that the entire Pakistani nation is united when there is a matter of Pakistan’s security and Kashmir issue.
He said Pakistan will not tolerate any non-sense from the eastern border and Pakistani forces are ready to deliver a bloody nose in case of any aggression.
He, however, agreed with the notion of the Prime Minister that we should pursue the course of peace as the region cannot afford any conflict.
He rejected the Indian allegations that Pakistan is behind Pulwama incident. He said Pakistan itself is the victim of terrorism and suffered both human and material losses in the prolonged war against militancy.
Shahbaz Sharif said India cannot suppress the just struggle of Kashmiris to achieve their birth right to self-determination.
He said that it is not acceptable for us that the OIC invites Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to attend foreign ministers meet as guest of honor.
Responding to this point, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that we have conveyed our concerns to the OIC Secretary General through a letter.
PPP Leader Raja Pervaiz Ashraf commended the armed forces for giving a swift and befitting response to the Indian aggression. He said we are peace lovers but our sovereignty was challenged, we know how to defend the motherland.
He said we are all united and firmly standing behind their armed forces. He said Pakistan does not want war, but if imposed we will fight till the last drop of our blood.
Ghaus Baksh Mehr of Grand Democratic Alliance said all the political parties are united at this critical situation and stand by their armed forces.
He said India should act responsibly as war between two nuclear countries will have disastrous consequences for the region.
Leader of Opposition in Senate Raja Zafarul Haq said Pakistan should forcefully raise the longstanding Kashmir dispute at all the international forums besides unmasking the maltreatment being meted out to the minorities including Muslims in India.
Awami Muslim League Chief Sheikh Rashid said India has hegemonic designs in the region and it is resorting to provocations to establish its hegemony.
He commended Pakistan Air Force for shooting down the two Indian aircraft saying the PAF is far superior than the Indian air force as it has indigenously developed JF-17 fighter jets.