Pakistani nation responded with maturity to India’s Feb 26 aggression: PM Imran

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that the manner in which Pakistan had responded to Indian aggression in February 2019 was indicative of the nation’s maturity.

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Addressing a ceremony in Islamabad held to commemorate ‘Pakistan’s Responsible and Resolute Response to Indian Aggression’ of Feb 26 last year, the premier said the country was prepared for India’s violations. In attendance at the ceremony were Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, ministers and other officials.

“I was very proud of how the Pakistani people dealt with the crisis,” the prime minister said. “The fact that the crisis did not aggravate and the situation didn’t worsen only shows the maturity of the Pakistani nation.”

On Feb 26, 2019, Indian planes violated Pakistani airspace and conducted air strikes inside Pakistani territory. In retaliation the next day, the Pakistan Air Force shot down two Indian fighter jets and captured Indian pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. Prime Minister Imran later decided that Pakistan would release the pilot as a peace gesture.

Prime Minister Imran said Pakistan was aware through intelligence reports that India planned to show some form of belligerence following the Pulwama attack in Indian-occupied Kashmir. “We were ready,” he said, adding that Pakistan’s entire response to Indian bombing within its territory was that of a mature country.

The premier said that the Pakistan armed forces had acted “with restraint” in response to India’s moves while the Pakistani media displayed maturity. In contrast, he said, the Indian media and politicians were beating the drums of war.

“We could have panicked … and responded to the Indian bombing on the spot. But we waited, realised the next day that there had been no casualties and then responded accordingly,” he recalled.

Recalling the ongoing political situation back then, PM Imran said that Pakistan knew that India will resort to some action after the Pulwama incident. He added that the intelligence reports had apprised him of the situation, adding that the country was ready for anything at that time.

While referring to ongoing violence in New Delhi against Muslims, he said that the Indian measures will push India towards destruction and it will be equally harmful for the region.

The prime minister appealed to the international community to intervene, saying that he has been apprising the global community regarding the atrocities in Indian occupied Kashmir since past year.

Earlier, the FM addressed the ceremony held at the anniversary of the event, where Prime Minister Imran Khan was the chief guest.

“My first message to our eastern neighbour is that do not think of any ill-considered misadventure, because if you do, we will respond and respond immediately, as it is our right to self-defence,” he said while lauding the PAF.

Reiterating Pakistan’s inclination towards regional peace, the foreign minister said that the country wants peaceful relations with its neighbours.

Speaking on the ongoing Afghan peace process, the foreign minister said that Prime Minister Imran Khan is always of the view that there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict.

FM Qureshi said that Pakistan facilitated the peace process in Afghanistan and is being recognised for it now.

“Pakistan is a strong advocate for an inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue as soon as the peace agreement is signed in Doha,” he added.

FM Qureshi slammed India, saying that it has imposed restrictions in Kashmir, claiming it an internal matter.

He said that UN’s Secretary General Antonio Guterres negated this claim here in Islamabad.

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