Pakistan's desire for peace must not be misunderstood, PAF chief says on 2nd anniversary of 'Operation Swift Retort'
Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan on Saturday cautioned that Pakistan's desire for peace should not be misunderstood as the nation marked the second anniversary of 'Operation Swift Retort' — conducted on February 27, 2019 — which resulted in the downing of two Indian planes that had violated Pakistani airspace.
Addressing a ceremony at the Air Headquarters in Islamabad, the PAF chief termed February 27 as a significant day not just for the Pakistan Air Force but for the whole of Pakistan, saying on that day "PAF once again upheld its glorious legacy and deterred the aggressor who gravely miscalculated and challenged our sovereignty."
The ceremony started with a flypast of the air force's fighter planes.
The air chief said Pakistan had responded to the violation of the Line of Control (LoC) by Indian planes in a manner that "made our nation proud", adding that the country's air force "proved equal to the Quaid's vision of being second to none and established our supremacy in the air".
"I appreciate all personnel of Pakistan Air Force for their professionalism, valour [and] commitment displayed in Operation Swift Retort."
He iterated that Pakistan was a responsible and peace-loving country and its efforts for international peace, especially in Afghanistan, the Middle East and in UN peacekeeping missions were being acknowledged by the international community.
One such manifestation of peace was witnessed by the world through the unconditional return of captured Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman by the government of Pakistan, he added.
"However, let me make it very clear that our desire for peace should not be misunderstood. In case of any misadventure, our response would be swift, resolute and unwavering."
He appreciated the force for "remaining proactive in maintaining peace and deterring aggression despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic", saying the air force was committed to increasing its potential for the defence of the country.
He also expressed support for Kashmiris, stressing that "it is time to bring an end to the atrocities and longest lockdown of more than 1.5 years".
Meanwhile, Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar also expressed similar resolve, saying:
"Pak stands [for] peace but when challenged, shall respond with full might."
In a tweet, the DG ISPR said Feb 27, 2019, was a testament that Pakistan Air Force "with support of the nation, will always defend the motherland against all threats".
"It is not numbers but courage & will of a resilient nation that triumphs in the end."
PM congratulates nation, armed forces
Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated the nation and the country's armed forces on the occasion of "our response to India's illegal, reckless military adventure of airstrikes against Pakistan".
He recalled how Pakistan had responded with determined resolve at a time and place of its choosing.
The premier said Pakistan had shown responsible behaviour in contrast to India's irresponsible military brinkmanship by returning Abhinandan. "We have always stood for peace & remain ready to move forward to resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue," he said in the tweet.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in his address, said that Pakistan delivered a "fitting response". He said that Pakistan did not want to heighten tensions but wanted to show the world that it possessed the capability to defend itself and respond to any Indian "misadventure".
"We protected our borders and sovereignty but tried to ensure there was no loss of life," said the foreign minister, adding that the captured Indian pilot was soon released as a gesture of "goodwill". "The world appreciated this and today the world understands that Pakistan wishes for peace."
Information Minister Shibli Faraz said the day marked Pakistan's "honour and prestige".
"The shaheens of the air force [made] the enemy see stars during the day and lifted the entire nation's head with pride."
Faraz said Pakistan wanted peace in the region, cautioning however, that it was capable of responding to any aggression.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Dr Moeed Yusuf said that two years ago, Pakistanis had come together and shown the world their capability and resolve to defend their country's sovereignty.
"I especially salute our brave soldiers, sailors and airmen whose tireless vigil keeps our people safe and defends every inch of our homeland," he added.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Office in a statement said the entire nation today "remembers with great pride Pakistan’s befitting response to India’s irresponsible military misadventure two years ago".
It noted that on Feb 27, 2019, the PAF shot down two Indian fighter jets and captured an Indian pilot after India violated Pakistani airspace.
"The whole world witnessed that Pakistan, once again, not only resolutely safeguarded its territorial sovereignty, but also acted with tremendous restraint and responsibility. The captured Indian pilot was returned as a gesture of peace," read the press release.
It said the government, armed forces and people of Pakistan "stand united against any threat or misadventure and will always act with iron resolve to protect and preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan".
The FO added: "We once again make clear to the world community that Pakistan remains committed to peaceful coexistence and resolution of the long outstanding Jammu & Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people."
With additional reporting by Naveed Siddiqui in Islamabad.