ISLAMABAD, May 27 (APP): One pilot died while the other was captured when
Pakistan shot down two intruding Indian planes, about 15 kilometres inside
Pakistani territory, Information Minister Mushahid Hussain Sayed told BBC
World on Thursday.
He said the planes, the wreckage of which is lying on Pakistani territory, were violating Pakistan's airspace and territorial integrity.
Mushahid said that Pakistan's position that India was escalating the situation beyond serious point has been vindicated with the shooting-down of the two planes deep inside Pakistani territory.
To a question, he emphasised that Pakistan's position has been vindicated because it had no point in raising the temperature. Rather hawks in Indian establishment were trying to divert attention away from India's failure to crush insurgency in Kashmir and the political instability and vacuum in New Delhi.
"That is what our Prime Minister told the Indian Prime Minister last Monday and that is what we have been telling the international community to take cognizance of this serious situation".
He hoped that the international community will "now act" because what the Indians have been doing is a serious threat to the peace, security and stability of the region.
"When someone intrudes into your house, what do you do. You take defensive action", Mushahid told BBC. He said that referring to insurgents as Islamic militants will be unfair because that will give religious label to the legitimate freedom struggle of Kashmiris.
To a question, Mushahid agreed that there should be an increased UN role in Kashmir.The UN Military Observers Group should beef up its presence, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
should immediately send a special envoy to the area and dialogue between the two countries should immediately begin.At the same time India must also stop violation of Pakistani airspace.
He said Pakistan wants peace in the region and it hopes that the Indians will not escalate the situation and instead see reason and sense.
The following is the text of Pakistani Minister's response to questions.
Q---Why were the planes shot down?
A---Because the planes were intruding well inside Pakistani territory, about 15 kilometres deep inside the territory and they were violating our air space and territorial integrity. And one pilot is dead and one has been captured and the wreckage of the planes is lying on Pakistani territory.
Q---The allegation is the planes crossed the Line of Control. Do you know why?.
A---Well, that is what we have been saying for the last several days that India has been escalating the situation beyond serious point and now Pakistan's position has been vindicated with the shooting down of these two Indian planes inside Pakistanterritory.
Q---You say vindicated, but has this not escalated the situation?
A--Well, the escalation is from the Indian side.The vindication is from Pakistan's side.
Q---But why do you say vindication?
A---Because Pakistan's position has been that we have no point in raising the temperature.It is India which is doing it. The hawks in the Indian establishment who want to divert attention from India's serious domestic political squabbles and they have been doing this to divert attention and we feel that India should not do that and that is what our Prime Minister told the Indian Prime Minister last Monday and that is what we have been telling the international community to take cognisance of this serious
situation and I hope that the international community will now act because what the Indians are doing is a serious threat to peace, security and stability in South Asia.
Q---Well, the international community, as you know, is calling for restraint. Kofi Annan called for it yesterday and Russia today is saying let's not escalate this any further. So that is the international feeling.
A---That advice should be given directly to the Indians who have been escalating it with this airspace violation of Pakistan, yesterday's bombing and also these helicopter gunship attacks.
So all across,the Indians seem to be in a very belligerent mood because of their internal failure and also their consistent failure to contain, curb or crush the popular insurgency in Kashmir.
Q---Are you worried in Islamabad about the escalation of conflict like this?
A---We are concerned that there seems to be vacuum in New Delhi and there seem to be nobody in charge who can leash in these militants and hawks in the Indian military establishment.
And I also want to make a correction that it is unfair to refer Islamic militants because that is giving a religious label to people who are struggling for their freedom.
Q---The Pakistani ministers in Islamabad have said, in fact they told BBC World, that they would not escalate the conflict in Kashmir as long as their position were not attacked.Were these jets attacking your positions.
A---These jets were violating Pakistan air space and they were violating Pakistan's territorial integrity.So when you have intruded in your house, what do you do?. You have to take defensive action and this is what we did in self-defence.
Q--Would you now like an increased UN role in Kashmir?
A---Yes absolutely.We feel that the UN Military Observers Group should beef up its presence.The UN Secretary General Kofi Annan should immediately dispatch a special envoy to the area and dialogue between India and Pakistan begin and India must stop its military operations which have been threatening and menacing to us and which has been demonstrated by this morning's action in
violation of our airspace.
Q---Can you give me, or give Delhi the message from Islamabad that you want to deliver
A---Yes, we would like to have peace in the region. We do not want to raise the temperature and we hope that Indians will see sense, they will see reason and they will stop this escalation and they will stop this violations of Pakistani air space and Pakistani territory and we want to continue the dialogue which we did in the last few months when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met Prime Minister Vajpayee. But we are very concerned that there seems to be vacuum due to political instability in India and some
people want to have these diversionary tactics to draw attention away from India's failure both in the insurgency in Kashmir and from political instability in New Delhi.