ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that Pakistan has offered to hold peace talks with India previously and is still willing to do so as “terrorism is not in Pakistan’s interests”.
While addressing the nation following the shooting down of two Indian aircraft by Pakistan Air Force, the premier started his address saying, “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 have suffered casualties,” he said.
“Pakistan has suffered casualties in the past so we offered to cooperate with India. Because terrorism is not in Pakistan’s interests,” PM Imran added.
“We had said that Pakistan would be forced to respond if India carried out aggression.”
“We didn’t take action yesterday morning because we didn’t know the full extent of the damage. Otherwise, it would have been irresponsible. That’s why we waited,” he explained.
PM Imran further said, “Our plan from the start has been no casualties for India. The purpose was just to show India that if they can enter our space, we can too.”
“The problem is, where do we go from here? It is crucial that India acts sensibly in this situation,” he asserted.
“My question to the Indian government is that with the weapons you and we have can we afford a miscalculation? If it escalates from here where will it go? It won’t be in Modi’s or my control. I once again invite you to dialogue. Let me say again that better sense should prevail. We should resolve our problems through dialogue,” he asserted.
Earlier during the day, the Foreign Office confirmed a counter-attack by PAF fighter jets that shot down two intruding Indian Air Force (IAF) MiG-21 aircraft in Pakistani airspace in Jammu and Kashmir, killing at least one pilot.
The spokesperson of the Foreign Office, Dr Mohammad Faisal shared on Twitter that “Pakistan [has] struck back. PAF undertook strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) from Pakistani airspace”.
“The sole purpose of this action was to demonstrate our right, will, and capability for self-defence. We do not wish to escalate but are fully prepared if forced into that paradigm,” he asserted.
Pakistan military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor also confirmed the retaliating strike: “In response to PAF strikes this morning, as released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Indian Air Force [aircraft] crossed the LOC. PAF shot down two Indian aircraft inside Pakistani airspace.”
“One of the aircraft fell inside Azad Jammu and Kashmir while other fell inside Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). One Indian pilot [has been] arrested by troops on the ground while two in the area,” he asserted.
One jet crashed in an open field near Garend Kalaan village in Budgam at 10:05 am. It broke into two and caught fire immediately, the officials said, adding one body was seen near the site crash.
Police officials in Indian-occupied Kashmir said that two Indian pilots and a civilian had died after an Indian air force plane crashed in Kashmir.
However, Indian officials claim that three Pakistani jets had also entered Indian airspace, before being intercepted and forced turned back.