Imran again invites India for talks, warns against 'miscalculation'

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday again invited India for talks and urged that “better sense should prevail” amid escalating tensions between the two neighbours.

Khan’s comments came after an aerial engagement between the Indian air force (IAF) and the Pakistan air force (PAF) in which New Delhi said it shot down a Pakistan fighter jet but lost one of its MiG-21s, with its pilot reportedly in Pakistani custody.

Khan said in an address to the nation: “I wanted to take you into confidence regarding the situation arising since yesterday. After the Pulwama incident, we offered India to cooperate in the probe. We know they suffered casualties. We offered India that we would investigate. We wanted to cooperate and were ready to do so. I feared that India would still take action and I had therefore warned India against aggression”.

“When India stuck yesterday morning (on the JeM training camp at Balakot), we spoke to our army command and waited to take action till we assessed the damage caused. Our action was only intended to convey that if you can come into our country, we can do the same. Two of their MiGs were shot down…From here, it is imperative that we use our heads and act with wisdom,” he said.

“All wars are miscalculated, and no one knows where they lead to. World War I was supposed to end in weeks, it took six years. Similarly, the war on terrorism was not supposed to last 17 years. I ask India: with the weapons you have and the weapons we have, can we really afford a miscalculation? If this escalates, it will no longer be in my control or in (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi’s”.

“We understand the grief that you have suffered in Pulwama and are ready for a probe and dialogue. Let’s sit together and settle this with talks,” Khan added.

Meanwhile Pakistan Wednesday summoned India’s acting high commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia and condemned the “unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian forces along the Line of Control which resulted in the killing of four civilians”.

Director general (South Asia and SAARC) Mohammad Faisal, who is also the foreign ministry spokesman, summoned Ahluwalia and “condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian forces along the Line of Control,” the foreign office (FO) said in a statement.

The firing on February 26 in Nikial and Khuiratta sectors resulted in the killing of four civilians, including three women. The firing also injured six others, the FO said.

The Indian forces along the LoC and the working boundary are “continuously targeting civilian populated areas with heavy weapons”, it said.

“This unprecedented escalation in ceasefire violations by India is continuing from the year 2017 when the Indian forces committed 1970 ceasefire violation,” it alleged.

“The deliberate targeting of civilian populated areas is indeed deplorable and contrary to human dignity, international human rights and humanitarian laws. The ceasefire violations by India are a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation,” the statement said.

Faisal urged the Indian side to respect the 2003 ceasefire arrangement; investigate this and other incidents of ceasefire violations; instruct the Indian forces to respect the ceasefire, in letter and spirit and maintain peace on the LoC and the working boundary, the statement said.

He also said that the Indian side should permit UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to play its mandated role as per the UN Security Council resolutions.

Pakistan does not want war with India, says Qureshi

Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Wednesday that his country does not want a war and asked India to come to the table to resolve all outstanding issues.

“Today’s strike demonstrates our right, will and capability to defend ourselves. We do not want war. We hope India will come to the table to resolve all outstanding issues,” Qureshi said.