ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said it was because of timely and correct decisions that war with India was averted.
He was addressing a meeting of the PTI parliamentary party at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) before the commencement of the National Assembly sitting where the supplementary budget and finance bill were approved.
Imran said the standoff with India had eased but a war could not be completely ruled out, as the armed forces on the two sides were still fully alert ready to battle.
He paid tributes to the armed forces’ valour and said the whole nation was proud of its sons in uniform, as they lived up to its expectations.
He also praised the Foreign Office for its round-the-clock work during the recent days. He said Pakistan’s traditional friends and brotherly countries played their role in de-escalating the situation.
He said it was a huge diplomatic success for Pakistan that important world capitals discarded the Indian propaganda and asked it to stay away from aggression.
Meanwhile, DG Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor Wednesday said the ball was now in India's court following the release of Indian pilot.
During an interview with CNN, he warned that the situation will "go bad" if New Delhi decided to opt for further escalation.
When asked if the two countries were close to a war, he said, "We were I would say close to war because when they [India] violated the airspace under token aggression, we went for response.”
On Pakistan's release of Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman as a gesture of peace, General Ghafoor said; "Now it is up to India whether they take that peace gesture and move forward towards de-escalation or continue the agenda that they have."
“Along the Line of Control (LoC) we’re eyeball to eyeball. There is presence of troops at the LoC for decades. But post-Indian aggression and our response the safeguards have been taken by both sides,” he remarked on the situation along the LoC.
He said troops had been increased “because it is natural as part of military planning. When the situation gets hot, there are safeguards. Those safeguards are in place on both sides.”
“We feel that now the ball is in the Indian court. Should they decide to escalate more, the situation will go bad," he asserted.
Answering a question about the Indian claims about the Balakot air strike, he said not even a single brick had been found there nor were there any causalities.
“Their [Indian] claims are false and I believe lately there is an announcement from their side also that they cannot claim any casualty.”
He further said the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) claim of responsibility for the Pulwama attack had not been made from inside Pakistan.
“Jaish-e-Muhammad does not exist in Pakistan; it has been proscribed by United Nations and Pakistan also. Secondly, we are not doing anything under anybody’s pressure.”
“Anybody who operates from Pakistan, we feel, that is not in the interest of Pakistan. Instead of blaming Pakistan, it is time that the world should assist and facilitate Pakistan in getting rid of such organisations,” he continued.
When asked why Pulwama attack triggered the recent tension, Gen Ghafoor said the answer lay in the United Nations Human Rights Commission report which highlighted Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir.
“If you suppress the local population to the extent that they are being killed, raped, being given pellet guns. So this is a natural reaction.”
“The world has to see what is forcing the Kashmiri youth to go towards violence. So instead of looking towards framed allegation for this incident, India also has to look inward as to why these incidents are happening. We have to move towards resolution of Kashmir, because this issue is a flashpoint for peace in the region.”