ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan Thursday announced to release captured Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan today (Friday) as a ‘gesture of peace’. However, in the same breath he warned India that any ‘miscalculation’ may prove disastrous for the whole region.
“Do not misconstrue Pakistan’s desire for de-escalation as weakness,” the prime minister asserted while addressing a joint parliamentary session here at the Parliament House. “I address the Indian government: do not force us for retaliation. We are prepared for any eventuality and response. I beseech India not to force us down the path of war,” he said.
Presenting a tribute to the opposition and the entire nation for standing united during the difficult time, he again urged India not to go beyond this point of aggression as all issues should be resolved through dialogue. “Countries are ruined because of miscalculations. War is not a solution. If India takes any action, we will have to retaliate,” he vehemently said. “The only purpose of our strike was to demonstrate our capability and will. We did not want to inflict any casualty on India as we wanted to act in a responsible manner. I had already said that if India did something, then we would definitely respond,” he said.
Referring to February 14 Pulwama attack, the prime minister regretted that Pakistan was blamed within 30 minutes of the incident. “I am not saying India is involved in Pulwama attack, but tell us how it can benefit Pakistan?” he questioned, while recalling series of important events scheduled in Pakistan during the same period of time. “We did ask India to give evidences and assured them of taking action, but rather than providing proofs, India started warmongering,” he lamented. “Despite our offers for dialogue on a number of occasions, India never responded positively,” he continued, while recounting his July 26 address and a letter to the United Nations inviting the Indian prime minister for peace talks.
“The invitation of dialogue was given in the view of rising poverty in the South Asian region,” Imran said. He maintained that the current Pak-India tension is because of Kashmir issue. “At one point, Kashmiri leaders did not want separation. But owing to Indian brutalities, today all they demand is independence,” he said. “For how long will Pakistan be blamed for everything in Kashmir?” he asked.
“I want to tell this House: Pakistan desires peace. Pakistan intends to work for poverty alleviation, investment, and job creation. Indians are terming recent attacks in Kashmir as Islamic radicalism. If you remember, most suicide attacks were carried out by Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka,” he said.
The prime minister also appreciated Pakistani media and noted that Indian media was busy creating war hysteria in their country. he said.
Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif said India will have to give Kashmiris their right to self-determination. “Wars are no solution to any issue as after all you have to sit on the table in the end,” he said. “It is not the first time that Pakistan-India escalation has taken place … we have fought several wars in the past and wasted our resources,” he said, and stressed that the Kashmir conflict should be resolved according to the wishes of the Kashmiri people.