Major General Asif Ghafoor, denied reports that an F-16 had been shot down by India.
Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday said all wars in history have been miscalculated and made an attempt to de-escalate heightened tensions by offering dialogue to India hours after the Pakistan Air Force shot down an Indian fighter jet and captured an IAF pilot who remains in its custody.
Given the weapons India and Pakistan has, Mr Khan said, if there is a war between the two nuclear-armed nations, it “will not be in my control or in Narendra Modi’s control.”
A day after 12 Indian Mirage 2000 fighter jets crossed into the Pakistani side of Line of Control (LoC) and targeted three JeM terror camps, on Wednesday Pakistan claimed to have carried out “strikes across LoC from within Pakistani airspace”, but “with clear warning and in broad daylight”. It claimed to have shot down two Indian MiG-21 fighter jets and captured two Indian pilots. Pakistan later corrected the claim to say that one MiG had been shot down and one Indian pilot was in its custody.
Hours after the aerial clash between Indian and Pakistani air forces, Mr Khan, in a televised address to the nation, said that the “sole purpose” of carrying out the strikes across LoC was to convey to India that “if they can come here, we can go there too”.
“From here, it is imperative that we use our heads and act with wisdom,” he said.
Looking confident and speaking in a calm, relaxed tone, Mr Khan said, “I wanted to take the nation into confidence over the prevailing situation in the country… During Pakistan’s retaliation, two Indian MiGs crossed the border. We shot them down. The pilots are with us… The question is, where do we go from here. This is very important.”
Citing the Pulwama attack in which more than 40 CRPF men were killed, Mr Khan said, “We offered peace to India after what happened in Pulwama. I understand the pain of the families. I have visited hospitals and seen the pain of people affected by violence. We offered India that we would investigate. We wanted to cooperate and were ready to do so… I suspected that they would take some action because elections are coming up in India. And I had, therefore, warned India against aggression.”
“World history tells us that that there are miscalculations in wars, 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. My question to the Indian government is — with the weapons that you have and we have, can we afford a miscalculation? Shouldn’t we think about what will happen if the situation escalates? This will not be in my control or in Narendra Modi’s control,” Mr Khan said.
Reiterating his dialogue offer to India for resolving simmering issues, Mr Khan said, “If you want any kind of talks on terrorism, we are ready. Better sense must prevail. We should sit and talk.”
Later, addressing a news conference, Inter-Services Public Relations’ director general, Major General Asif Ghafoor, denied reports that an F-16 had been shot down by India. He said no F-16 was engaged in this action.
Gen. Ghafoor said that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) had engaged six targets across the LoC in India, “But being a responsible state, we decided that we will not aim any military target. We also wanted to ensure that no human loss or collateral damage is done during our engaging the targets.”
“We selected six targets but we hit the areas close to them while keeping a safe distance, in order to demonstrate our capability. This action was purely in self-defense with no aggressive designs… and we do not want to claim any victory on it. We wanted to show to Indians that we are capable of doing all things, but not at the peril of regional peace. We are a peaceful country and do not want to go to war.”
He added, “War is failure of policy which India needs to understand. As our Prime Minister said it is easy to start war but difficult to conclude it. We do not want to escalate and are pursuing path of peace.”
Responding to a question, he said if “aggression is imposed on us we will definitely give a response under compulsion.”
Foreign office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said for the last few years India has been trying to establish what it calls a “new normal — a thinly veiled term for doing acts of aggression at whatever pretext they wish on a given day”.
“If India is striking at so-called terrorist backers without a shred of evidence, we also retain reciprocal rights to retaliate against elements that enjoy Indian patronage while carrying out acts of terror in Pakistan,” he said.
Mr Faisal added, “We do not wish to go to that route and wish that India gives peace a chance and to resolve issues like a mature democratic nation.”