February 27, 2019 holds a special importance in our national history due to the remarkable role of the Pakistan Air Force for safeguarding our skies. Exactly one year ago, PAF pilots not only succeeded in foiling Indian aggression but also surprised the world community with a quick and effective response. Last year’s incidents are still fresh in my mind. Once again, Pakistan-bashing was used in the Indian election campaigns; and the situation at the LOC was intensified to seek voters’ support. Unfortunately, the Pulwama attack also occurred just a few months before the Indian general elections. As a result, the Indian media gave non-stop coverage to the way Pakistan was blamed for the unfortunate incident. In such critical circumstances, I got a chance to visit India for the Kumbh Mela. However, I decided to play my due role for the sake of peace. During my meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj (late), Minister of Foreign Affairs and Ex-Army Chief V K Singha and others, I made clear that peace is in the best interest of the people of both countries. On various occasions, I expressed my point of view that Pakistan is a peace-loving country, and being the frontline state against war on terror, it has offered huge sacrifices in order to achieve peace and prosperity. Instead of involving ourselves in a blame game, the leadership of both countries must strengthen people-to-people contacts. Pakistan is not in favour of using any country’s soil against a neighboring country. Even the local civil society was supportive of my stance that peace-loving people of both countries should come forward to strengthen people-to-people contact. Mentioning the peaceful teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, I tried my best to convince them that the solution to each and every conflict is dialogue, not war. I further mentioned that there are a few unwanted elements on both sides. Such hatred-spreading elements want to spoil the peace process for their vested interests. During my interviews with the local Indian media, I emphasized that India should join hands with Pakistan in order to counter terrorism and other social evils. Unfortunately, the Indian leadership showed no interest in acting wisely and preferred to violate Pakistani airspace. On the 26th night of February 2019, India attempted a suspicious air strike against Pakistan and Indian aircraft off-loaded two payloads in a forest. Within 24 hours, the Pakistan Air Force succeeded in shooting down two Indian aircraft and arresting Indian pilot Abhinandan alive. The successful and quick reaction resulted in surprising everyone. However, Pakistan decided to send the Indian pilot back safely to his homeland. The peace gesture demonstrated by the Pakistani government was widely appreciated, both at the national and international levels. US President Donald Trump visited India a year after this incident but the tensions between the two neighbouring countries have not be ended. I believe that India should learn from the history of the last seven decades that there is no benefit of Pakistan bashing other than securing the votes of average-minded citizens. Every sensible person understands that national progress and prosperity is directly linked with regional peace. India used to misguide the international community by accusing Pakistan of being behind terrorism but today the reality is before everyone. India’s aggressive plans and hateful policies have resulted in widespread anarchy within the country. Indian people are on the roads to record their protest against the controversial citizenship amendment act. Although the Indian government is trying to control the situation, it seems to be failing. Similarly, the occupied valley of Kashmir is disconnected from the outer world for the last seven months. On the other hand, if we talk about Pakistan then from the last one year the international community is acknowledging our peace efforts with positive remarks. Even US President Donald Trump, during his visit to India, has appreciated Pakistan. The separate visits of the United Nation secretary-general and different world leaders to Pakistan also demonstrate our leading role in achieving peace and stability in the region. The US, UK and other Western countries have already announced lifting travel sanctions on Pakistan. The Indian leadership must learn from history that a hostile attitude is not in the interest of anyone. On one end, India declares itself as secular and as the world’s biggest democracy and on the other, it is not willing to even bear the local Muslim minority community and the existence of Pakistan. India should understand that today’s superpower America is also going to end the 19-years war in Afghanistan by signing a peace treaty. Today, every patriotic Pakistani citizen, while paying tribute to the Pakistan Air Force, believes that our brave armed forces are committed to giving a surprise to all those that have aggressive aims against our beloved motherland.
The writer is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.