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Pakistan Armed Forces on Wednesday said that Pakistan has the capability and capacity to retaliate but they don't want to retaliate at the cost of regional peace since war is nothing but a failure of policy. In self-defence, Pakistan had to respond after the India's air incursion, said military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor during a press briefing after Pakistan Air Force (PAF) shot down two Indian aircraft inside Pakistani airspace.

The DG ISPR informed media about the activity going on the Line of Control (LoC). He said the Pakistan Army engaged 6 targets across LOC from within Pakistani airspace.

Stating that the Pakistan Armed Forces including PAF had no choice but to respond, the DG ISPR said the question was "how to respond" whether in "a similar manner as India (did) or as a responsible country." He said, "Pakistan Armed Forces have capability, capacity, will, resolve as well as nation's support. But since we are a responsible state and want peace, we decided first of all that we won't take any military targets."

Secondly, the Armed Forces assured no life loss or collateral damage in the engaged targets, he added. "While making sure Pakistan planes locked targets, we carried out strikes in open air," he continued. "We locked all targets with accuracy, and when we had option to fire, we acted responsibly from a safe distance. We have capability to do anything, but we don't want escalation of tension. We don't want to go towards war," he asserted.

"After PAF decided on targets, two Indian jets entered Pakistani airspace and the PAF faced them. The two planes were shot down - one fell in our space and the other on their side, while there was a third one inside Indian domain too, however we couldn't engage with it," the DG ISPR shared.

While replying to a question of Indian claims of shooting down of a Pakistani F-16 plane, the DG ISPR denied the media reports saying, "Pakistan did not use F-16 in any activity today."

The DG ISPR categorically stressed on the message of peace and a dialogue among the democratic countries in case there are any issues arising. He said, "The state, government, Armed Forces and the people of Pakistan have always conveyed a message of peace to India. The road to peace goes through dialogue. Both countries have the capability and capacity but war is the failure of policy which India needs to understand. We do not want to escalate tension and want to follow a path which leads to peace. The people of both countries and region at large have a right to live and live in peace. War is not the solution to problems. India should think with a cool head on this offer from Pakistan."

He further said that Pakistan Armed Forces reacted in self-defence. He said, "We don't want to claim any victory. There are no victors in war."

He also requested media to report objectively and responsibly, and promote Pakistan's message of peace. "Our message is for peace," he further said. "Starting a war is easy, but where it ends, nobody knows." Highlighting the role of the international community, he said the international community should play its role. "Pakistan is sending a message of peace and they should also come forward and see how the environment between India and Pakistan is a threat to peace and development not only to the two countries but also to the region and beyond," he added.

Major General Ghafoor added, "Pakistan's response is not retaliation per se, but a demonstration of our capability, responsibility and will. It is now up to India whether they go towards peace, which is a requirement of the region. But if forced, we will respond."

In response to a question, Major General Ghafoor said, "Pakistan is not pushing for war. We engaged our targets in open air, we deliberately avoided escalation. We could easily have taken the original targets, but we did not do that." Regarding the airspace being closed, the DG ISPR said, "It has been closed due to the environment."

In a video released by ISPR, the Indian AirForce pilot was heard saying, "My name is Wing Commander Abhinandan. My service number is 27981. I am a flying pilot. My religion is Hindu." He also praised the Pakistan Armed Forces' conduct with him.

When asked to share more, the arrested pilot can be heard saying: "I'm sorry sir, that's all I'm supposed to tell you."

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said a MiG 21 was shot down and its pilot is missing. Addressing a press conference, a spokesperson for the Indian MEA said, "We unfortunately lost one MiG-21 in this engagement and an Indian pilot is missing in action. Pakistan claims the pilot is in their custody, however, we are ascertaining the facts." Earlier, Indian media confirmed an Indian Air Force (IAF) wing commander is in Pakistan's custody. India media reports stated that IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan took off in a MiG 21 Bison jet and is yet to return. Wing Commander Abhinandan is the son of a retired Indian Air Marshal, the reports added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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