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KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Thursday told the provincial legislature that in the face of the current volatile situation, his government was prepared for any eventuality but “these are just preparatory measures and we don’t want war because we are peace-loving people.

“In the current situation as things go, we [are prepared]. There are SOPs, which are to be followed and are being followed,” said the chief minister while wrapping up the two-day debate on the resolution, condemning the Indian aggression on Pakistani soil and appreciating the Pakistan Air Force for its prompt reply to the enemy trying to sneak into the country.

The resolution was carried unanimously amid slogans of ‘Pakistan Zindabad’.

Mr Shah said his government in the province was taking all the steps warranted by the situation.

CM says preparatory measures are in place amid volatile situation

“We have ensured all our medical facilities, especially the ones in the bordering zones, are properly functioning. And we are trying to guarantee proper food supplies.”

However, he made it clear that all those actions were just “preparatory measures”.

“We don’t want to go to war. We are peace-loving people, Sindh is the land of peace. Yet, such measures are need of the hour,” said the chief minister.

Mr Shah said his government would inform the Sindh Assembly, the lawmakers belonging to the opposition parties in particular, about any important course of events.

“We’ll inform the provincial assembly about such a situation so that they could disseminate the information to their constituents.”

He said India had unfairly blamed Pakistan minutes after the incident in Pulwama despite the fact that the 22-year-old attacker who blew himself up belonged to the territory under Indian occupation. The attacker had been arrested several times by the Indian forces and had been tortured so badly that he attacked the Indian forces there. “But,” he made it clear, “we don’t support that incident”.

Mr Shah said the Indian government was involving Pakistan in their internal matter in a fit of frenzy to win the coming general election, despite the fact that Pakistan had condemned that incident.

“They [Indian Air Force] violated the Line of Control and they made claims in their media that they destroyed their targets, while they had just relieved their jets of payloads before leaving our land.”

CM Shah said Pakistan had successfully convinced the world about its stance because “we are all united”.

“This is not the situation in India. There, 22 political parties are not buying the policies of their government.”

He appreciated the Pakistan government’s calculated response to the Indian aggression in which the forces in the country said the response of Pakistan would be such that its timing and place would be decided by the country itself.

He said Pakistan Peoples Party’s founding chairman and former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had an unwavering commitment to the cause of Kashmir for which he had made it clear that Pakistan would fight for 1,000 years against India if required.

He said Mr Bhutto made Pakistan a nuclear-armed state and the country’s defence was further entrenched when ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto brought in missile technology.

“The next day when two Indian jets tried to enter our airspace, our air force foiled their attempt and shot down both — one of them fell in our land and the other was seen falling in their area.” He said all governments in Pakistan had always supported the armed forces and the same was happening now.

Mr Shah said Pakistan was a peaceful country, which loved peace and did not want war. He said the Indian prime minister, on the other hand, had given a blank cheque to his armed forces to do whatever they could in the present scenario, and in that situation Pakistan should also be ready to respond to their possible attacks.

“In case of our role in the present situation, our government is taking all possible measures. We have held several meetings, got the departments concerned ready to play their roles. Our civilian government is ready to play its part.

“We need peace to eradicate poverty, we need peace to ensure better education for our children, and we need peace to provide better services in the social sector.”

However, he said: “We will respond with equal measure if an unnecessary war is imposed on us”.

PM’s stance praised

Mr Shah welcomed Prime Minister Imran Khan’s stance in which he asked the Indian government to settle issues through talks, adding, “We are with our government”.

He said the government had briefed all the political parties on the situation, which was a welcome sign on part of the federal administration. He called upon the people of Pakistan to keep calm and stay united.

He said the fact that Pakistan came into being in the wake of a resolution passed by the Sindh Assembly itself showed how democratic and steadfast that country was.

He requested the lawmakers that they should take caution in their speeches as “there are so many enemies who can take advantage of anything delivered in a fit of rage”.

Mr Shah said his government would offer briefings to the provincial legislature if needed.

Earlier, Leader of the Opposition Firdous Naqvi said the Pakistan government was showing exemplary restraint which was clearly proved in the country’s announcement that it would be releasing the Indian pilot whose jet was shot down and who was arrested on Wednesday.

He said the Pulwama explosion was not a terrorist act, as suppression in Kashmir for more than 70 years and Indian atrocities directed against the Kashmiri people had given them the right to fight for freedom.

He warned India that Pakistan would respond with equal measure if it was attacked.

A total of 24 lawmakers spoke in the debate on the resolution on the day. Some 28 lawmakers had spoken on the same resolution on Wednesday.

Speaker Siraj Durrani said the day’s agenda would be taken up on Friday (today).

Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2019