Brigadier Shahid gives briefing to an international media team at Horran village on Wednesday.—AFP
Brigadier Shahid gives briefing to an international media team at Horran village on Wednesday.—AFP

ISLAMABAD: While terming Pakistan’s response to the Indian aggression in February 2019 indicative of its peaceful and matured nation, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday invited the world community’s attention to the Indian government’s inimical designs against minorities in held Kashmir with a warning that the entire world could face its dire consequences.

Addressing a ceremony held to commemorate Pakistan’s Respon­sible and Resolute Response to Indian Aggression of Feb 26, 2019, PM Khan said: “The way Pakistan had responded to Indian attacks is indicative of the nation’s maturity. The whole nation, armed forces of the country, media and political parties exhibited maturity and did not panic when India attacked at 3am late night.”

Mr Khan said he, too, got courage and confidence from Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and the Air Force chief who were quite calm even after the Indian aggression as they were prepared for India’s transgression. The ceremony was also attended by the COAS, Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, ministers, parliamentarians, senior bureaucrats and foreign diplomats.

“I am proud of how the Pakistani people dealt with the crisis and did not aggravate it. It shows that the Pakistani nation is well mature,” the PM said.

On Feb 26, 2019, Indian planes violated Pakistani airspace and conducted air strikes inside Pakistani territory. In retaliation, the Pakistan Air Force shot down two Indian fighter jets and captured Indian pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. Next day PM Khan announced Pakistan was releasing the pilot as a “peace gesture”.

The PM said Pakistan was aware through intelligence reports that India had planned to show some form of belligerence following the Pulwama attack in India-held Kashmir. “Although we were ready to respond, Pakistan armed forces had acted with restraint, while the Pakistani media and politicians displayed maturity in contrast to the Indian media and politicians who were beating the drums of war,” he added.

About the Indian government’s campaign against minorities, the PM said India had chosen a dangerous path from where it was very difficult to return. “Now the world community should intervene and give India a way to come out of bloody racism as India is now totally trapped,” he added.

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

“Hindutva philosophy prevailing in India is not only spreading hatred against Muslims and Christians but other Indian minorities like Dalit tribes, Sikhs and others. There can be very serious consequences of marginalising such a large minority,” he added.

Referring to President Trump’s visit to India, Mr Khan noted that the Indian media had criticised him for praising Pakistan but said his statement reflected Pakistan’s current standing in the international community.

On the domestic front, PM Khan said the country would see overall improvement as the entire difficult period was over.

Minorities in Pakistan

Meanwhile, the prime minister in his latest tweets warned the Pakistanis that those who would be involved in targeting minorities in the country would be dealt with in a stern manner.

“I want to warn our people that anyone in Pakistan targeting our non-Muslim citizens or their places of worship will be dealt with strictly. Our minorities are equal citizens of this country,” he said.

In another tweet, Mr Khan warned the international community of Indian government’s inimical designs against minorities and urged it to act. “As I had predicted in my address to the UN General Assembly last year, once the genie is out of the bottle, the bloodshed will be worse,” he said in relation to over-200-day-long curfew imposed in the held valley. “IOJ&K was the beginning. Now 200 million Muslims in India are being targeted. The world community must act now,” he said.

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2020