–FM Qureshi says he is ready to meet Indian FM but not at OIC
–Says Saudi FM to arrive in Islamabad with message from MBS
–Says things wouldn’t be this bad if India had given dossier concerning Pulwama attack earlier
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday once again expressed apprehension over the participation of his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj in a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) scheduled to be held in United Arab Emirates (UAE) next month.
In a brief chat with reporters, the foreign minister said he has relayed these concerns to the UAE government which had invited Swaraj as a guest speaker for the inaugural session of the conference.
“India was neither a member of the OIC nor an observer,” said Qureshi, adding Pakistan should have been consulted before sending out such an invitation.
He, however, didn’t rule out a meeting with Indian FM, saying he was ready to meet his counterpart but the OIC moot was not the [right] place.
Qureshi also said the Saudi foreign minister was expected to visit Pakistan with a special message from Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who visited both Pakistan and India earlier this month.
In response to a question regarding the closure of Pakistan’s airspace, the foreign minister said, “The airspace has been closed for national and passenger security. It was SOP [standard operating procedure]. We want the airspace to open at the earliest.”
Earlier in the day, Qureshi gave an interview to Geo News, where he had suggested Pakistan was ready to release Indian pilot if it would help ease tensions.
His statement was endorsed by the prime minister in a joint session of parliament. “Pakistan will release Indian pilot on Friday,” said Imran Khan as he extended an olive branch to India.
Reiterating Pakistan’s commitment to peace, the foreign minister said the Pakistani PM was ready to talk to counterpart Narendra Modi on phone. “Is Modi ready?” he asked.
Asserting that Pakistan has been calling for peace since day one, Qureshi said, “If India wants to talk about terrorism then we are ready.”
“Our wish is peace and stability is our top priority,” he maintained.
In a comment on dossier given by India to Pakistani high commissioner, the foreign minister said Pakistan will examine the dossier, but there was no need to attack if they had given it earlier and waited for Pakistan’s response.
Meanwhile, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal said that a dossier was received from India regarding the Pulwama incident.
In a media briefing, the spokesperson said the Foreign Office will review the dossier and action will be taken on any actionable intelligence if found in the dossier regarding the Pulwama attack, as it has been assured by Pakistan.
The premier had already announced the offer of investigation, the spokesman said.
He reiterated that Pakistan is ready for dialogue with India on all issues including terrorism. “We should also hold talks on the issues other than terrorism,” Dr Faisal urged.
He said, “We have activated the UN Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan and the Group will be taken for a visit to the site where the Indian Airforce jets were shot down.”
“Pakistan has a clear position with regard to the arrested Indian pilot,” the spokesman said. “He is safe and healthy. Pakistan Army personnel saved him from the angry mob.
“India has raised the issue of the captured pilot with Pakistan … Any decision with regard to giving him the status of a prisoner of war or not, is yet to be taken. The convention which is applicable to the arrested pilot will be decided in a day or two.”
Talking on Pakistan’s participation in the OIC meeting, the spokesman clarified that if Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will attend the session, Pakistan’s foreign minister will not show up in the meeting.
He said both the countries have been in touch with the world community over the situation, adding that Pakistan has clarified its position with the countries talking about the allegations of terrorism.
“If there is an issue of terrorism, still India has no right to violate the border. If any legal justification being given for it then Pakistan could also do so,” the spokesman said.
He said Pakistan has already initiated the action against terrorists under its National Action Plan.
Tensions between Pakistan and India have escalated dramatically after a suicide bomber struck an Indian paramilitary convoy in Kashmir’s Pulwama district. The attack had left 44 personnel dead.
India claimed Jaish-e-Mohammed was behind the attack and intruded into Pakistan airspace to bomb an alleged JeM camp on Feb 26.
The attack prompted a strong response from Pakistan. It warned against “uncalled for aggression” and decided that the country would respond at a “time and place of its choosing”.
Next day, it launched airstrike within Indian-held Kashmir and also shot down two fighter jets that attempted to violate Pakistani airspace, capturing an Indian pilot as well.
The military’s media wing later released a video of the pilot, who introduced himself as Wing Commander Abhinandan bearing service number 27981.