ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday reiterated Pakistan’s offer of dialogue to India, hours after the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) shot down “two” Indian fighter jets, the Express Tribune reported.
“We are ready to talk. Let better sense prevail. Let’s think sensibly. I ask India; with our weapons capability…on both sides, can we afford a miscalculation? If this escalation continues, matters will neither be in my control nor Modi’s. The hurt that has been caused due to the Pulwama attack, we want to come to the table and talk about terrorism that effects us both,” the prime minister said in a televised address to the nation.
The premier’s address came after he chaired a meeting of the National Command Authority to discuss Pakistan’s response to Indian aggression.
He said taking the nation into confidence was essential under the current circumstances. “I had a hunch that India would escalate, and that is why in my earlier speech I said that if India continues on this path, we will retaliate. We waited, and today we took action. It was our plan to not cause any collateral damage, and not to cause any casualties.”
The premier conveyed Pakistan’s aversion to conflict and said Islamabad was well aware of the impact of violence. “We know how the families of those killed in Pulwama must have felt. We have been the victims of war for decades. I have been to hospitals visiting survivors of bomb attacks, the ones who are left behind.”
Elaborating on the decision to target Indian forces, the premier said the action was meant to prove Pakistan’s capability to protect its sovereignty.
“We did not retaliate in haste because we did not know the extent of damage on our side. Today, we simply wanted to show our capability. Two Indian MiGs crossed Pakistan’s borders and we shot them down. I also want to state that the pilot is with us,” he said
PM Imran also focused on the unpredictable nature of war and how easily a confrontation could spiral out of control. “All major wars have been a miscalculation. When they started, no one realised where they were headed. World War I was supposed to end in six months but it went on for six years. Similarly, when it was launching the War on Terror, did the United States ever think it would remain in Afghanistan for 17 years?”
“We know what war means. Since the beginning, we have asked India to share actionable evidence with us. It is nowhere in the interest of Pakistan for our soil to be used as a base for militancy,” Khan said.
The prime minister concluded his address with an invitation of dialogue. “I once again invite you [India] to the dialogue table. We were and we are prepared for dialogue on terrorism.”