A former White House official has said that after Pakistan shot down two Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets, the United States ‘walked back on its rhetoric of self-defence’, reported the Dawn.
“After the Pakistani military shot down two Indian Air Force planes and captured an Indian pilot, the United States walked back its rhetoric of self-defence,” said Shamila N. Chaudhary, who was director for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the White House National Security Council under President Barack Obama.
She was referring to a recent statement by US National Security Adviser John Bolton who said after the Feb 14 suicide attack in Pulwama that the United States “support(s) India’s right to self-defence”.
On Feb 14, in a suicide attack on a CRPF convoy, 49 personnel were killed and Jaish-e-Mohammad had claimed the responsibility of the attack.
In a piece Chaudhary wrote for a congressional newspaper, The Hill, she noted that after Pakistan brought down the IAF planes US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged both countries “to exercise restraint, and avoid escalation at any cost”.
Later, several US lawmakers backed Pompeo’s appeal to India and Pakistan to defuse the situation. “Pakistan’s repatriation of Wing Commander Abhinandan to India is a good first step toward enabling meaningful dialogue to resolve this conflict,” said Congressman Eliot L. Engel, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
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’.
“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.
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.
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.”