Onus on India to improve bilateral ties, says Pak PM

Wednesday 03rd March 2021 05:12 EST

Islamabad: Days after the LoC ceasefire agreement, seen by some as the first real sign of thaw in ties since the Pathankot terror attack, Pakistan PM Imran Khan, while welcoming the cessation of hostilities, said the onus was on India to create an enabling environment for further progress in the bilateral relationship.

Khan’s statement is in complete contrast to India’s long-held position that it’s Pakistan’s responsibility to create right conditions for engagement by reining in terror groups active on its soil.

Significantly, Pakistan army also chose the day to release a new video of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman in which the IAF pilot is seen saying that he believed there was “no reason” for Pakistan and India to continue with hostilities and called for peace between the two neighbours.

Delhi refrained from responding to Khan’s remarks, though sources in Delhi said Pakistan must take verifiable and irreversible action against crossborder terrorism if it really wanted to see progress in the relationship. The Indian government had said after the military joint statement this week that its position on “key issues” remained unchanged.

Khan also said in a tweet that India must take necessary steps to meet the “longstanding demand and right of the Kashmiri people to self-determination according to UNSC resolutions”.

Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s comments are the latest in a series of assertions that the Kashmir issue can and should be resolved through dialogue. India, however, has so far seen it as just grandstanding meant to deflect attention from the fact that the key issue of cross-border terrorism remained unaddressed.

There was no response from India to the Abhinandan video, which was released two years after the aerial clashes between Pakistan and India in Jammu and Kashmir. The video seemed to be part of the same interview which was aired two years ago shortly after Abhinandan’s capture in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. Some Indian TV channel reports suggested that the video had been edited at several points.

The IAF officer is seen saying in the video that war happened between countries when “there is no peace”.

“I do not know what we should do to achieve peace but I only know that there should be peace,” the wing commander said.

He also spoke about Kashmir saying that neither he nor the Pakistanis know “what is happening to a Kashmiri”. “We must think with calm heads,” the pilot said.

“I saw both countries when I was coming down on a parachute, and I could not differentiate between the two countries from above,” the Indian pilot said, adding that that both countries are “beautiful”. “When I fell down I did not know whether I was in Pakistan or my own country India. To me, both countries looked the same, the people looked the same as well,” he said. “I was badly injured when I ejected from my aircraft and once I landed I was not able to move. After landing, I tried finding out which country I was in,” the IAF pilot said.

“When it looked to me that I was not in my country, I tried running,” the Indian pilot said and added that a “charged” crowd tried to capture him as well but he was saved by the Pakistan army.

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