China ‘welcomes goodwill signal’ by Pakistan on releasing captured Indian pilot

Chinese Foreign Minister Lu Kang on Friday welcomed the “goodwill signal” by Pakistan following Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s announcement that the captured IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman would be released as a gesture of peace.

During the briefing from the Ministry on Friday, Kang said that from the start China was calling upon both sides to exercise restraint, ease tensions and engage in dialogue.

“China welcomes the goodwill signal by Pakistan side. De-escalation serves common interest of both sides,” he said. “Encourage both sides to make a joint effort to deal with the relevant issue.”

He restated that China hopes to see regional peace and stability.

Furthermore, China Daily, the state owned English language daily newspaper in its editorial, ‘India, Pakistan need to rein in their animosity’ said: “As a good neighbour of both Pakistan and India, China, in particular, has expressed “deep concern” over the situation, urging the two arch rivals to “exercise restraint” and resolve their dispute through dialogue.”

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It further noted the “nationalistic hysteria” being on the “rise in both countries” and “their leaders will have to work hard to ensure they are not hijacked by the mood of the public, especially after tit-for-tat airstrikes in which both sides claimed they shot down each other’s fighter jets and the Pakistanis said they captured at least one Indian pilot.”

In the editorial, China’s stance on respecting the sovereignty of a country’s territory is underline once more. “

The anger over the heavy casualties is understandable. But using warplanes to bomb targets deep inside another sovereign country’s territory has only aggravated the situation. As has the rhetoric of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is keen to present a strong image ahead of the coming elections. It is worth noting that shortly after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan assumed power last year, he invited Modi for dialogue, although the invitation was rejected by New Delhi,” the editorial says.

It also said that Pakistan was “also a victim of terrorism”, and “because it is on the forefront of the global fight against terrorism, it has paid a huge price, with thousands of its soldiers and civilians having been killed by extremists that target them.”

“Given the high risks involved in a prolonged conflict, both leaders must make sure any of the actions they are going to take are measured. Maybe Khan could start by releasing the captured Indian pilot, in a show of goodwill to improve its ties with India,” the editorial reported.

The tensions between the two countries have escalated following the Pulwama attack on a CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir, which killed 49 CRPF personnel and which was claimed by militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad.

Following the attack, the Foreign Secretary of India had said on Tuesday that they have ‘struck the biggest camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot in the pre-dawn ‘preemptive strikes across the Line of Control’.

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“India struck the biggest camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot and a large number of terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis planning terror strikes were eliminated,” Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had said.

Gokhale had added that India’s “non-military preemptive action” was specifically targeted at the Jaish-e-Mohammed camp.

“Credible intelligence was received that Jaish-e-Mohammed was attempting another suicide terror attack in various parts of the country and Fidayeen jihadis were being trained for this purpose,” he had said.

“India has given proof many times seeking action against Jaish-e-Mohammed and others at terror camps so big, that they can train hundreds of jihadis and terrorists at any given time. But due to Pakistan’s inaction, this step was necessary and had to be taken,” he had said.

Earlier, India has said that they carried out a pre-dawn strike on a ‘militant camp’ across the Line of Control soon after Pakistan army said that Indian fighter jets were forced to leave after they crossed the LoC in Muzaffarabad sector.

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According to reports, the strike was carried out at around 3:30 Tuesday morning by 12 Mirage 2000 fighter jets. The aircraft dropped, according to reports, ‘1,000 kg laser-guided bombs on a major militant camp across the Line of Control, completely destroying it’, news agency ANI reported, quoting Air Force sources.

Earlier, Pakistan Army claimed that the Indian military planes “intruded” from the Muzaffarabad sector but were forced to go back after Pakistan Air Force “immediately scrambled”.

Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan during a joint Parliament session on Thursday said that as a gesture of peace, they would return captured Indian pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan to India.

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He further stated that he was ready for talks with India and de-escalate tensions between both countries.

During the session, he said that the reason of escalation between India and Pakistan was the Kashmir dispute.

“All of this is because of Kashmir,” PM Khan said while addressing a joint session of parliament.

“I want to ask the Indian public about all that has happened over the past 4 years. There is an indigenous movement in Kashmir. At one point, Kashmiri leaders had not wanted separation, but because of Indian brutality, today all they demand is independence.”

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