Ready to return IAF pilot if it eases tensions with India: Pak Foreign Minister

Shah Mehmood Qureshi

Islamabad, Feb 28: Pakistan would be prepared to return the Indian Air Force pilot captured this week if it helped ease the crisis with its neighbour, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Thursday.

Qureshi also said that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is ready to talk to with Narendra Modi over telephone “to extend an invitation of peace”.

The Minister told Geo News: “Prime Minister Imran Khan is ready to talk to Narendra Modi on the telephone and ready to extend an invitation of peace. Is Modi ready?”

He added: “I have just received the (Indian) dossier (on the Pulwama terror attack) and have not gotten the chance to examine it… I will still say that we will see and examine the dossier with an open heart.

“I wish they (India) would have sent this dossier earlier. They attacked first and then sent the dossier. If they would have sent the dossier first and sought Pakistan’s answer, there would be no need for an attack.

“If there is de-escalation with the return of this (Indian) pilot, Pakistan is willing to consider this. We are ready for all positive engagement,” he said amid rising tensions between India and Pakistan since a JeM suicide bomber killed 40 CRPF troopers on February 14.

Asserting that Pakistan had been calling for peace since day one, Qureshi said: “If India wants to talk about terrorism, then we are ready.

“You (India) want to risk regional stability for politics,” he said, in an apparent reference to upcoming parliamentary elections in India. “It could be the need of politics but history will not forgive you.”

Qureshi asked: “God forbid there is a war, Pakistan will be affected but will India’s economy not suffer?”

The Minister added that the Saudi Foreign Minister was departing for Pakistan.

He also welcomed US President Donald Trump’s statement on Pakistan-India tensions.

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was detained by Pakistani authorities following a fierce engagement between air forces of the two sides along the Line of Control in which a Pakistani jet F-16 was downed. IAF also lost a MiG 21 aircraft.

India has asked Pakistan to ensure safe return of the IAF pilot and strongly strongly objected to Islamabad putting out photographs and videos of the pilot, calling it a “vulgar display” of an injured personnel.

The ministry of external affairs had on Wednesday summoned Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner Syed Haider Shah to lodge a protest against Paksitan Air Force’s attempt to attack military installations.


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