Pakistan seeks Turkey's help in defusing tensions

Pakistan seeks Turkey
# 28 February 2019 19:52 (UTC +04:00)

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said he would seek Turkey's help in defusing tensions with nuclear-armed neighbor India in the aftermath of cross-border air raids, ONA reports citing Anadolu agency.

“I am going to talk to [Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, and I will request him to play his role in this connection,” Khan told a joint session of the parliament summoned after both countries claimed to have shot down each other's jets.

He said his country wants peace and this should not be considered a weakness, adding that he had attempted to contact Indian Prime Minister Narendara Modi on Wednesday to call for deescalation.

Khan also announced to release an Indian pilot on Friday who was arrested after Pakistani forces claimed to have downed two Indian jets who had entered their territory.

India denied the claim saying it has downed one Pakistani jet on Wednesday and in the process lost one of their own jets.

Reiterating his offer for dialogue, Khan dubbed the lingering Kashmir dispute was the bone of contention between the two countries, and underlined the need to address it.

"Shouldn't they [India] be asking why a 19-year-old agreed to become a human bomb? Why Kashmiri youths have lost fear for death?" he said, referring to a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) suicide bomber who claimed to have carried out an attack in Kashmir that killed more than 40 Indian paramilitary troops in mid-February.

On Tuesday, Indian jets entered Pakistan claiming to have killed several terrorists in a JEM training camp. 

Pakistan, which has banned JEM since 2002 but is accused by India of providing the group a sanctuary, denied the claim saying the Indian jets had dropped bombs at empty forestland.

Also on Thursday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said he has been in constant contact with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, state-run Radio Pakistan reported.

The two South Asian nations have fought three wars in 1948, 1965 and 1971 -- two of them over Kashmir -- since they were partitioned in 1947.

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