ANKARA (AA): Turkey will not only help Pakistan and India resolve their standoff but will facilitate the attainment of a durable peace in the region, Pakistan’s ambassador to Turkey said Thursday. “We welcome the Turkish offer of mediation not only in defusing the current situation but also in helping to bring lasting peace and stability to South Asia by helping Pakistan and India sit together and have a meaningful result-oriented conversation on the core issue that afflicts South Asia, and that is Kashmir,” Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi told Anadolu Agency.
Qazi said Turkey is a “great friend and brother” of Pakistan. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday and briefed him on the situation as it evolved over the past few days and the efforts Khan made to de-escalate the crisis. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Wednesday that Ankara is always willing to contribute to easing tensions between Pakistan and India.
On Wednesday, the two countries engaged in their first aerial encounters in decades, with Pakistan claiming to have downed two Indian aircraft that had entered its airspace and India claiming to have shot down one Pakistani aircraft. Pakistan also captured an Indian pilot who was arrested by troops after the downing of his aircraft. Qazi confirmed the pilot will be freed Friday after Khan announced the decision earlier in the day.
“In our desire for peace, I announce that tomorrow, and as a first step to open negotiations, Pakistan will be releasing the Indian Air Force officer in our custody,” Khan told the Pakistan National Assembly. Qazi added that Pakistan has always sought to reduce tensions and promote peace in South Asia. But he cautioned that any miscalculation between the two countries would cost the region “very dearly”. “The two sides need to talk. All problems can be addressed through meaningful conversation,” he said.
Qazi said Pakistan will not escalate tensions further and is “determined” to exercise restraint. “However, if unfortunately, escalation is imposed upon us, then we may not have any option but to retaliate. But that will be our last resort. “We do not want this to go down that path. And hopefully, our Indian partners on the other side of the border will also share this sentiment,” he added. Qazi also ruled out a nuclear war between the neighboring countries. “It is my firm belief that given sincerity, there is almost no problem that cannot be solved,” he said, adding there is always a diplomatic solution available for all “mature and sane” nations. “We are ready for it. We hope the Indian side is also ready for it,” he added.