Wednesday, February 27, 2019
ISLAMABAD: Director General of the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor on Wednesday said Pakistan wants peace and India needs to understand war is a failure of policy.
Addressing a press conference after Pakistan Air Force (PAF) shot down two Indian aircraft inside Pakistani airspace, the Pakistan military spokesperson said, "Since today morning activity has been ongoing at the Line of Control (LoC). This morning PAF engaged six targets across LoC from within Pakistani airspace."
Stating that the Pakistan armed forces and PAF had no choice but to respond, DG ISPR said the question was "how to respond" whether in "a similar manner as India or as a responsible country".
"Pakistan's armed forces have capability, will, resolve and nation’s support. But because we are a responsible state and want peace, we decided first of all that we won’t take any military targets."
"Secondly, we decided that there be no loss of life or collateral damage in our engaging of targets," Major General Ghafoor added. "Our planes locked targets, then in open air we carried out strikes," he continued.
"We locked all targets with accuracy, and when we had option to fire, we acted responsibly from a safe distance. We have capability to do anything, but we don’t want escalation. We don’t want to go towards war," he asserted.
"After PAF decided on targets, two Indian jets entered Pakistani airspace and the PAF faced them. The two planes were shot down — one fell in our space and the other on their side," the DG ISPR shared.
Refuting Indian media reports that a Pakistani F-16 jet was shot down, Major General Ghafoor said, "Pakistan did not use F-16 in any activity today."
The Pakistan military spokesperson stressed, "The state, government, armed forces and people of Pakistan have always conveyed a message of peace to India. The road to peace goes through dialogue. Both countries have the capability and capacity but war is the failure of policy which India needs to understand. We do not want to escalate and follow a path which leads to peace. The people of both countries and region at large have a right to live and live in peace. War is not the solution to problems. India should think with a cool head on this offer from Pakistan."
"Today's action was in self defence, we don't want to claim any victory. There are no victors in war. I request media to report objectively, responsibly, to go towards peace. Our message is for peace," he further said. "Starting a war is easy, but where it ends, nobody knows."
Calling on the international community to play its role, DG ISPR said, “Pakistan is sending a message of peace and they should also come forward and see how the environment between India and Pakistan are a threat to peace and development not only to the two countries but the region and beyond.”
Major General Ghafoor added, "Pakistan’s response is not a retaliation per se, but a demonstration of our capability, responsibility and will. It is now up to India whether they go towards peace, which is a requirement of the region. But if forced, we will respond."
In response to a question, Major General Ghafoor said, "Pakistan is not pushing for war. We engaged our targets in open air, we deliberately avoided escalation. We could easily have taken the original targets, but we did not do that."
Regarding the airspace being closed, the DG ISPR said, "It has been closed due to the environment."
Earlier today, the Pakistan military spokesperson said Indian Air Force (IAF) crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and two of their aircraft were shot down by PAF inside Pakistani airspace.
"One of the aircraft fell inside AJK while other fell inside IoK. One Indian pilot arrested by troops on ground," the DG ISPR stated.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said a MiG 21 was shot down and its pilot is missing.
Addressing a press conference, a spokesperson for the Indian MEA said, "We unfortunately lost one MiG-21 in this engagement and an Indian pilot is missing in action. Pakistan claims the pilot is in their custody, however, we are ascertaining the facts."
"In the aerial engagement, a Pakistan fighter aircraft was shot down by a MiG-21 Bison. The aircraft was seen by ground forces falling on the Pakistan side," he added.
Earlier, Indian media confirmed an Indian Air Force (IAF) wing commander is in Pakistan's custody. India media reports stated IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan took off in a MiG 21 Bison jet and is yet to return. Wing Commander Abhinandan is the son of a retired Indian Air Marshal, the reports added.
A video of the captured Indian pilot was released. In the video, the captured pilot can be heard saying: “My name is Wing Commander Abhinandan. My service number is 27981. I am a flying pilot. My religion is Hindu.”
When asked to share more, the arrested pilot can be heard saying: “I’m sorry sir, that’s all I’m supposed to tell you.”
The Foreign Office in a statement earlier today stated, "Pakistan Air Force (PAF) conducted strikes across Line of Control (LoC) from within Pakistani airspace."
"This was not a retaliation to continued Indian belligerence. Pakistan has therefore, taken strikes at non-military target, avoiding human loss and collateral damage," the FO statement read.
"Sole purpose being to demonstrate our right, will and capability for self defence. We have no intention of escalation, but are fully prepared to do so if forced into that paradigm," it added. "That is why we undertook the action with clear warning and in broad daylight."
The FO further said, "For the last few years, India has been trying to establish what they call “a new normal” a thinly veiled term for doing acts of aggression at whatever pretext they wish on a given day. If India is striking at so called terrorist backers without a shred of evidence, we also retain reciprocal rights to retaliate against elements that enjoy Indian patronage while carrying out acts of terror in Pakistan. We do not wish to go to that route and wish that India gives peace a chance and to resolve issues like a mature democratic nation."
All flight operations in Pakistan will remain suspended till Thursday midnight, the Civil Aviation Authority said in a notification on Wednesday.
The authority, in a notification, announced it has officially closed its airspace till tomorrow midnight, in the wake of escalating border tensions between Pakistan and India.
India has shut at least four airports after the incident, according to Reuters. Flight operations at Srinagar, Jammu, Pathankot and Leh airports have been suspended. Airports in Chandigarh and Amritsar have also been closed, Reuters added.
A day earlier, Major General Ghafoor warned India that it was time to "wait for our surprise" after Indian military aircraft intruded Pakistani airspace. "I said three things: You will never be able to surprise us. We have not been surprised. We were ready, we responded, we denied. I said we will retain the escalation ladder. We have that initiative in our hand," he said while addressing a news conference.
"I said that we will surprise you. Wait for that surprise. I said that our response will be different. See it for yourself. The response will come, and response will come differently," the DG ISPR warned the Indian army.
Indian military aircraft violated the LoC as they "intruded" from the Muzaffarabad sector and were forced to return owing to the timely response of the Pakistan Air Force, Major General Ghafoor said early Tuesday.
"Indian aircraft intrusion across LoC in Muzafarabad Sector within AJK was 3-4 miles. Under forced hasty withdrawal aircraft released payload which had free fall in open area. No infrastructure got hit, no casualties. Technical details and other important information to follow," Major General Ghafoor wrote on Twitter.
He also tweeted images of the "payload of hastily escaping Indian aircraft" which "fell in [the] open".
The incursion into the Pakistani air space follows a series of threats by Indian political and military leadership following the attack on an Indian Army convoy at Pulwama by a local youth, in reaction to the oppression unleashed by the occupational forces.