Pakistan's response to India's Feb 26 aggression showed nation's maturity: PM Imran

Updated 27 Feb 2020

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Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a ceremony held to commemorate Pakistan's response to Indian aggression in February last year. — DawnNewsTV
Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a ceremony held to commemorate Pakistan's response to Indian aggression in February last year. — DawnNewsTV

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that the manner in which Pakistan had responded to Indian aggression in February 2019 was indicative of the nation's maturity.

Addressing a ceremony in Islamabad held to commemorate 'Pakistan’s Responsible and Resolute Response to Indian Aggression' of Feb 26 last year, the premier said the country was prepared for India's transgression. In attendance at the ceremony were Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, ministers and other officials.

"I was very proud of how the Pakistani people dealt with the crisis," the prime minister said. "The fact that the crisis did not aggravate and the situation didn't worsen only shows the maturity of the Pakistani nation."

Related: A look back at the events leading up to the Feb 2019 Pak-India aerial combat

On Feb 26, 2019, Indian planes violated Pakistani airspace and conducted air strikes inside Pakistani territory. In retaliation the next day, the Pakistan Air Force shot down two Indian fighter jets and captured Indian pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. Prime Minister Imran later decided that Pakistan would release the pilot as a peace gesture.

Addressing the event, the premier said Pakistan was aware through intelligence reports that India planned to show some form of belligerence following the Pulwama attack in Indian-occupied Kashmir. "We were ready," he said, adding that Pakistan's entire response to Indian bombing within its territory was that of a mature country.

The prime minister said that the Pakistan armed forces had acted "with restraint" in response to India's moves while the Pakistani media displayed maturity. In contrast, he said, the Indian media and politicians were beating the drums of war.

"We could have panicked ... and responded to the Indian bombing on the spot. But we waited, realised the next day that there had been no casualties and then responded accordingly," he recalled.

He also lauded the political parties in the National Assembly for coming onto one page in the wake of the Pakistan-India tensions despite their differences.

Prime Minister Imran said India today has set out on a "very dangerous path" from where it is very difficult to return.

"History shows that only bloodshed follows the kind of racist, totalitarian and fascist RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) ideology adopted by [India]," he remarked.

He said the Hindutva philosophy prevailing in India is spreading hatred against Muslims and Christians and its next target will be other Indian minorities.

"There can be very serious consequences of marginalising such a large minority. India is now trapped," he said, calling on the international community to act.

Prime Minister Imran noted that the Indian media had criticised United States President Donald Trump for praising Pakistan during his recent visit to India but said that it reflected "Pakistan's current standing" in the international community.

On the domestic front, the premier said the country will see things improve because "the entire difficult period has passed".

'Time to take action'

He then addressed the international community and diplomats present at the ceremony, saying: "I feel that unless the world community intervenes, India has seriously taken a path which is going to be self-destructive ... because when an ideology based on racial and religious superiority, inspired by the Nazis, takes over a nuclear-armed country of over a billion people, it has consequences."

Prime Minister Imran said he had tried his best to explain to world leaders the likely consequences of this Hindutva ideology following India's move to annex occupied Kashmir in August last year.

"Unfortunately no one understood," he added, noting that the Kashmir move was followed by India's Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens. "Clearly this was something that is not done in the modern world. This violates all humanitarian rights.

"My appeal to the international community is that this is the time to take action," he said, adding that if the world does not act now, "things will keep getting worse".

Referring to the recent violence in the Indian capital against Muslims, the premier said: "What we saw in Delhi last night is just the beginning. I don't see how this is going to stop."