New Delhi/Islamabad, Feb 27: Pakistan Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed on Wednesday said that his country doesn’t want war with India but warned any conflict between the two nations will be “more horrific than the World War” as Pakistan denounced the Indian air strikes and vowed to retaliate appropriately.
Tensions between the two countries after the Indian strike in Pakistan’s Balakot on Tuesday – and Wednesday’s tit-for-tat claims over downing each other’s warplanes – were fully reflected in most of the country’s leading newspapers which blamed India for creating insecurity in the region.
After Pakistan claimed to have shot down two Indian fighter jets and captured two pilots, Sheikh Rasheed, who is known for being outspoken, said: “… the Pakistani Fizayee (Pakistan Air Force) has maintained its honour… India which was yesterday celebrating (its strikes on Balakot) learnt this also happens.
“We don’t want war… the Director General, ISPR, has already explained Pakistan’s actions and aims… India must learn (that) any brazen measure they take will be responded to,” he told media persons.
Addressing a public conference, Inter Services Public Relations Director General, Major Gen. Asif Ghafoor said that Pakistan Air Force had engaged six targets at the LoC, clarifying it was “not a retaliation” but a “demonstration of our capability, capacity and will”, reported the Dawn.
“Pakistan is not pushing the environment towards war,” he said, adding that Pakistan “deliberately and thoughtfully avoided escalation”. He stressed Pakistan wants peace and India needs to understand war is failure of policy.
Ghafoor also said that two Indian fighters had crossed the LoC but were shot down, with one falling into Indian Kashmir and the other in Pakistan’s part of Kashmir.
He denied that a PAF F-16 was shot down, saying none was used in Wednesday’s operation.
Sheikh Rasheed, who is the Railway Minister, also alleged that India’s moves stemmed out of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “desperation”. “He has lost five state elections and is totally desperate… getting hell-bent on war.
“We have no option (but to defend ourselves)… Pakistan hai to ham hai,” he said.
The Indian air strikes on the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) training camp hogged the front page on all of Pakistan’s top newspapers.
The Dawn had the attack as its main story, titled “Pakistan vows response to India, ‘at place & time of our choosing’, along with reports on the government and opposition leaders denouncing the attack and villagers in Balakot denying anyone was injured by the Indian aircraft.
The Nation devoted its entire front page to the news. “You failed to shock us,” it said, and below in a much bigger font, wrote “Be Ready For Our Surprise”.
So did the The News International. “We will pick time, place to hit back” was the main story, while a box, referring to the meeting of the National Command Authority, which controls the country’s nuclear arsenal, summoned by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday, asked if India knew what NCA was.
Other stories on the front page, save one on the CPEC, were also related and included Pakistan objecting to India’s presence at the upcoming OIC meeting, the ban on Indian films in Pakistan, the Pakistani political leadership’s reaction to the attack and the Balakot villagers’ “expose” of Indian claims.
The Urdu papers followed suit.
“Bharat jawab ka intezar kare, waqt aur maqam ham tae karenge: Pakistan (India should wait for (our response), time and place we will decide) ” was the banner headline in the widely-read Jang, while “Bharati taiyaron ki darandazi, Pak fizayee ne mar bhagaya (Indian airplanes barge (into Pakistan), Pakistan Air Force chases them away), ” and “Bharat hamare surprise intezar kare, waqt, jagah ka intekhab khud karenge (India should wait our surprise, we will choose the time, place)”, screamed the Nawaiwaqt/
The Jasarat’s headline was similar.
“Bharati taiyaare Pakistani hadd mein ghus aaye, Pak fizayee ne bhaga diya (Indian airplanes entered Pakistani territory, chased away by PAF),” the Jamaat-e-Islami newspaper flashed.