–UK, Turkey and Qatar stress the need for de-escalation of tensions between nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours
–International media all praise for Pakistan’s peace gesture
ISLAMABAD: The international community is appreciating Pakistan’s efforts for peace in the region as United Kingdom (UK), Qatar, Turkey and international media hailed Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision of releasing captured Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.
In a telephonic conversation with PM Khan on Sunday, British premier Theresa May lauded his decision of releasing the Indian pilot, whose MiG 21 Bison aircraft was shot down by a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) jet after it violated Pakistani airspace, and stressed the need for de-escalation between both Pakistan and India. She also told him that she was in touch with both sides in this regard.
PM Khan apprised his British counterpart of Pakistan’s perspective on the developments since the Pulwama attack on February 14. He also invited the British premier for a visit to Pakistan, who reciprocated the invitation. Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in a telephone call with PM Khan on Sunday appreciated Pakistan’s release of IAF pilot as a gesture of peace.
Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal, in a tweet on Sunday, said that the emir had underscored the importance of “immediate de-escalation” in the situation between India and Pakistan and “offered his facilitation in this regard”. According to Qatar News Agency, both sides exchanged views on regional and international developments, especially differences between Pakistan and India. The emir also called for calm between the two countries, QNA said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said that Turkey is ready to do its part to de-escalate tensions between Pakistan and India. Addressing a campaign rally in Trabzon, he hailed Pakistan’s move in handing over an Indian pilot downed in the recent tension, adding that he looks forward to seeing similar steps from India. Meanwhile, Indian Ambassador to Russia Venkatesh Varma said that India will not accept any offer of mediation.
INT’L MEDIA ALL PRAISE FOR PAKISTAN:
The US print and electronic media has given wide coverage to the handover of the captive Indian fighter pilot, praising Pakistan’s peace gesture and efforts to de-escalate tension between the two South Asian neighbours.
According to a report, CNN, in a dispatch, said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments on the escalating crisis along the border in disputed Kashmir were in stark contrast to PM Khan, who called for dialogue between the two sides.
The Wall Street Journal noted that India has rebuffed the offer of talks by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The New York Times dispatch said that the release of Indian captured pilot “capped a humiliating episode for India.
A retired Indian Army Colonel, Ajai Shukla, in his comments in Financial Times, appreciated PM Khan for showing statesmanship in the ongoing crisis. American papers also deplored the war hysteria created by Indian media.
The captured Indian pilot was released on March 1, a day after PM Khan announced that his government had decided to return Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to India as a goodwill gesture and to show Pakistan’s commitment to peace.
“In our desire for peace, I announce that tomorrow, and as a first step to open negotiations, Pakistan will be releasing the IAF officer in our custody,” the prime minister said while addressing a joint session of parliament. The gesture was greeted with near unanimous support in the parliament.
“Pakistan’s desire for de-escalation should not be confused as weakness,” PM Khan stressed, as he thanked the parliamentary opposition for the continued support amid rising tensions with India.
“The only purpose of our strike was to demonstrate our capability and will,” he said while addressing the House. “We did not want to inflict any casualty on India as we wanted to act in a responsible manner,” he added.
PM Khan said he tried to call Indian PM Modi on the phone because “escalation is neither in our interests nor in India’s”.
“I reached out to New Delhi after assuming charge as prime minister. I wrote to Narendra Modi and suggested a meeting between the foreign ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). But we did not get a positive response.”
PM Khan said that Islamabad realised that due to the upcoming elections in India, the Narendra Modi-led BJP [Bhartiya Janata party] government was not very keen on maintaining good ties with Pakistan.