Islamabad, February 27 (Dawn): Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday afternoon addressed the nation and decision makers in neighboring India to reiterate his message of peace and offer for dialogue.
The address came after Pakistan Air Force (PAF) successfully targeted non-military targets across the Line of Control earlier in the day to demonstrate Pakistan’s aggressive capabilities, and shot down two Indian Air Force jets after they crossed the LoC.
Two Indian Air Force pilots are currently in the captivity of Pakistan’s armed forces. One has been identified as Wing Commander Abhi Nandan. The other as yet unidentified pilot is receiving medical care at a military hospital.
“I wanted to take the nation into confidence over the developments since yesterday morning,” the premier said as he began his address.
“We offered peace to India after what happened in Pulwama. I understood the pain of the families [who lost family members in Pulwama]. I have visited hospitals and seen the pain of people affected by violence. We have lost 70,000 of our own and I know what those who are left behind and those who are injured feel.
“[On that basis], we offered India that we would cooperate. It is not in Pakistan’s interest to let our land be used for terrorism. There is no dispute there. Yet, I had still feared that India would [ignore the offer and] still take action, and I had therefore warned India against aggression and said we will be compelled to respond because no sovereign country can allow that [violation of its sovereignty].”
“When India stuck yesterday morning, me and the army chief spoke. We did not respond in haste — this would have been irresponsible as it would have resulted in casualties on their side. Once we assessed the damage caused, we were ready to take action.
“The sole purpose of our action [today] was to convey that if you can come into our country, we can do the same,” he said, referring to the engagement of non-military targets across the LoC.
“Two of their MiGs have been shot down [by Pakistani forces],” he noted.
“It is important where we go from here. From here, it is imperative that we use our heads and act with wisdom,” he continued.
“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 US never expected the war on terrorism to last 17 years.
“I ask India: with the weapons you have and the weapons we have, can we really afford such a miscalculation? If this escalates, things will no longer be in my control or in Modi’s,” the prime minister continued.
“I once again invite you: we are ready. We understand the grief India has suffered in Pulwama and are ready for any sort of dialogue on terrorism. I reiterate that better sense should prevail.
“Let’s sit together and settle this with talks,” the prime minister concluded.
(The featured image at the top Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing the nation)