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Ready to return IAF pilot if it leads to ‘de-escalation’, says Pakistan

Qureshi said Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is ready to talk to Indian PM Narendra Modi over telephone and “extend an invitation of peace”.

india Updated: Feb 28, 2019 16:09 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Pakistan,IAF pilot,Indian Air Force
Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.(REUTERS)

Pakistan would be prepared to return the captured Indian Air Force pilot if it helped ease the crisis with India, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told in an interview to Geo TV on Thursday.

“If there is de-escalation with the return of this [Indian] pilot, Pakistan is willing to consider this. We are ready for all positive engagement,” Qureshi said in the interview. He said Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is ready to talk to Indian PM Narendra Modi over telephone and “extend an invitation of peace”. (Follow live updates)

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was detained by Pakistani authorities following a fierce engagement between air forces of the two sides along the Line of Control in which a Pakistani jet was downed. IAF also lost a MiG 21 aircraft.

Read: Pak trying to divide us, India will fight as one, win as one, says PM

India has asked Pakistan to ensure safe return of the IAF pilot and strongly strongly objected to Islamabad putting out photographs and videos of the pilot, calling it a “vulgar display” of an injured personnel. The ministry of external affairs had on Wednesday summoned Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner Syed Haider Shah to lodge a protest against Paksitan Air Force’s attempt to attack military installations.

Tensions have been elevated since a suicide car bombing by Pakistan-based terrorists killed at least 40 CRPF jawans on February 14 in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama.

Also Read | No deal on IAF pilot captured by Pak, return him immediately: Govt

India has handed over to Pakistan a dossier on “specific details” of involvement of Jaish-e-Mohammad in the Pulwama terror attack on CRPF and the presence of camps of the terror outfit in Pakistan.

Qureshi on Thursday said Pakistan will evaluate with an “open heart” the dossier handed over by India. “Will evaluate Indian dossier with an open heart. I wish India would have sent this dossier earlier,” Qureshi told Geo News.

The Foreign Office in a statement said the dossier will be reviewed by it following which “any and all legal evidence” will be probed. Islamabad will take action against “credible evidence” provided by India, it said.

First Published: Feb 28, 2019 15:11 IST