Amid the series of attacks and counter-attacks by the Indian Air Force and Pakistan Air Force across the LoC, the Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan issued a statement on Wednesday, reiterating Pakistan’s offer for peace and dialogue.
While addressing a press conference, the PM Khan emphasised the futility of war, urging the Indian government to “act with wisdom”. He said, "All wars are miscalculated, and no one knows where they lead to. World War I was supposed to end in weeks, it took six years. Similarly, the US never expected the war on terrorism to last 17 years.”
He added, “I ask India: with the weapons you have and the weapons we have, can we really afford such a miscalculation? If this escalates, things will no longer be in my control or in Modi's."
Meanwhile, earlier today, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) confirmed in a media briefing that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) had responded to the IAF strikes by targeting military installations on the Indian side. The MEA also stated that in the aerial engagement, “one PAF fighter aircraft was shot down by a MiG 21 Bison of the Indian Air Force”. The MEA spokesperson also said, “We have unfortunately lost one MiG 21. The pilot is missing in action. Pakistan has claimed that he is in their custody. We are ascertaining the facts.”
A police officer told IANS, “The jets entered the Indian air space over Nowshera in Rajouri district on the morning of February 27.”
As per PTI, another IAF Mi-17 chopper crashed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Budgam district on Wednesday morning. At least five people were killed following the crash in an open field near Garend Kalan village. One of the deceased persons has been identified as Kifayat Hussain Ganaie, a local resident, while the identity of other four – believed to be IAF personnel – is being ascertained, officials told PTI.
Also Read: Air Strikes in Balakot on JeM Camps: War Clouds Gather over India-Pakistan Relations
In the backdrop of aerial engagement, there was also exchange of heavy fire using mortar and small arms among Indian and Pakistani troops in Jammu Kashmir’s Uri sector, as reported by IANS. The report further stated that intermittent firing continued at 40 places on the LoC including Poonch, Rajouri and Jammu districts since Tuesday night.
Wednesday’s aerial engagement occurred a day after IAF jets conducted air strike across the border at Balakot. According to the MEA media briefing, “Credible intelligence was received that Jaish e Mohammad was attempting another suicide terror attack in various parts of the country, and the fidayeen jihadis were being trained for this purpose. In the face of imminent danger, a preemptive strike became absolutely necessary.” The briefing claimed that its strike on the JeM camp, run by Masood Azar’s brother-in-law Ustad Ghouri, was successful.
However, Pakistan had claimed that its air force had chased away the IAF planes which had crossed the LoC in Muzaffarabad sector. Director-General, Inter-Services Public Relations, (DG ISPR) Major-General Asif Ghafoor said on his official Twitter account, “Payload of hastily escaping Indian aircrafts fell in open,” implying no damage.
The Indian attack on the JeM training camp came 12 days after a suicide bomber had attacked a CRPF convoy in Pulwama in Kashmir, killing at least 40 CRPF personnel. The attack was claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad.
Also Read: Pulwama Aftermath: As India-Pak Tensions Increase, Panic Grips Kashmir
Following the Pulwama attack, as condemnation poured in from various corners, the situation on both sides of the border had escalated. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that Pakistan "will pay a heavy price of the attack", and that "the army will be given free hand to deal with the situation in Kashmir". Meanwhile, in response, Pakistan had said on Friday that it would retaliate to any kind of military action from India.
On the Indian side, the government had responded with heavy deployment of forces and vacating villages located along the LoC. Panic gripped the valley, as on February 22, the news of mass arrests of leaders of Jamat-e-Islami, the political wing of the Hizbul Mujahideen poured in. At least 150 members, including its chief Abdul Hamid Fayaz, had been arrested during the night-long raids. JKLF Chief Yasin Malik had also been arrested from his residence late on Friday night.
Police sources, however, had maintained that the arrests were carried in view of the upcoming assembly election in the state.
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