India demand immediate, safe return of pilot in Pak custody

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New Delhi: India on Wednesday said Pakistan has committed an “unprovoked act of aggression” by targeting Indian military posts with its air force and sought immediate and safe return of an Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot in its custody.

After an aerial engagement in the J&K’s Nowshera sector on Wednesday, Pakistan claimed that it has captured one Indian pilot, identified as Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, a MiG 21 Bison pilot.

India has issued a demarche to Pakistan, objecting to the “vulgar display” of the injured IAF pilot in violation of all norms and said Islamabad must ensure that no harm is done to the Indian defence personnel in its custody.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) also summoned Pakistan’s acting High Commissioner Syed Haider Shah and lodged a strong protest at “the unprovoked act of aggression by Pakistan against India earlier today, including violation of the Indian air space by Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and targeting of Indian military posts.”

It also gave Pakistan a dossier with specific details of Jaish-e-Mohammed’s complicity in the February 14 Pulwama terror attack, which killed 40 CRPF personnel.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has been asking India to provide “actionable intelligence” to take action against those involved in the Pulwama attack. JeM, based in Pakistan, had claimed responsibility for the attack.

The MEA said in a statement it was clearly conveyed to Pakistan that India reserves the right to take firm and decisive action to protect its national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity against any act of aggression or cross-border terrorism.

“India also strongly objected to Pakistan’s vulgar display of an injured personnel of the IAF in violation of all norms of International Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Convention. It was made clear that Pakistan would be well advised to ensure that no harm comes to the Indian defence personnel in its custody. India also expects his immediate and safe return,” the statement said.

India had earlier in the day accused Pakistan of targeting the military installations in response to its counter-terrorism action a day earlier and said an Indian MiG-21 Bison pilot was “missing in action.”

It said Pakistan has used its air force to target military installations on the Indian side and in the aerial engagement, one PAF fighter aircraft was shot down but a MiG-21 aircraft was also lost.

The MEA said targeting of Indian military posts was in contrast to India’s non-military anti-terror pre-emptive strike at a JeM terrorist camp at Balakot in Pakistan eraly Tuesday.

“It is unfortunate that instead of fulfilling its international obligation and bilateral commitment to take credible action against terrorist entities and individuals operating from its soil, Pakistan has acted with aggression against India,” the statement said.

The MEA said India expects Pakistan to take immediate and verifiable action against terrorism emanating from territories under its “control.”

“Regret was expressed at the continuing denial by Pakistan’s political and military leadership at the presence of terrorist infrastructure in territories under its control. A dossier was handed over to Pakistan side with specific details of JeM complicity in the Pulwama attack and the presence of JeM terror camps and its leadership in Pakistan,” the statement said.

(Agencies)