In the backdrop of recent simmering Pak-India tensions, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and US National Security Adviser John Bolton held a telephonic conversation to discuss the regional security situation.
According to a statement issued by the Foreign Office, the purpose of the phone call was to provide Washington with Pakistan’s perspective on the recent regional developments after the February 14 Pulwama attack, in which over 40 Indian paramilitary personnel were killed.
FM Qureshi said Indian aggression with an airstrike in Balakot on February 26 was a violation of its territorial integrity and sovereignty.
On February 27, an Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was captured after Pakistan Air Force (PAF) jets shot down two Indian jets after they intruded into its territory.
Islamabad’s response on February 27 was purely in self-defence against external aggression, he added.
According to the foreign minister, Prime Minister Imran Khan had decided to hand over the captured Indian pilot as a peace gesture to New Delhi.
“Pakistan wished peace and stability in the region. Pakistan’s High Commissioner to New Delhi had also returned to Delhi after consultations,” the statement reads.
Moreover, Islamabad would send an official delegation to India on March 14 to discuss the agreement on the operationalisation of the Kartarpur border corridor.
FM Qureshi told the US adviser that Islamabad is ready to continue weekly contacts at the Military Operations Directorate level.
John Bolton said that he along with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had closely monitored developments between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
He said Washington had kept contact with the leadership of two countries to ensure that the security situation did not deteriorate.
Bolton appreciated Islamabad’s measures which had helped dissipate tensions while urging continued restraint on both sides.
The need for dialogue between Pakistan and India to find peaceful resolution to all outstanding disputes was also emphasised.
The foreign minister cautioned against any Indian misadventure, keeping in view the forthcoming elections, to which Bolton concurred.