Press Trust of india

No negotiation, deal possible with Pak on IAF pilot’s release: Sources

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New Delhi, Feb 28 : Asserting that India has not asked for consular access to Wing Commander Varthaman and is insisting on his unconditional and immediate return, the sources said the onus on deescalating tension between the two countries lies entirely on Pakistan.

They said Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale briefed envoys of several countries, including from China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, on the Pakistan Air Force targeting Indian military installations in an aggressive manner, resulting in the escalation of tensions.

The Pakistani Air Force on Wednesday carried out a retaliatory strike, a day after Indian struck inside Pakistan, destroying the biggest training camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

On US President Donald Trump’s suggesting that the situation between India and Pakistan was de-escalating, the sources said New Delhi has no idea what he was referring to.

Pakistan’s efforts to link the release of the pilot with “de-escalation” of tensions with India has not gone down well in New Delhi, they indicated.

In Islamabad, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said his government was willing to consider returning the captured IAF pilot if it leads to “de-escalation” of tensions with India.

“We want him back unharmed, unconditionally and immediately. He is not a bargaining chip. There is no question of any deal with Pakistan on his return,” a source said.

According to the sources, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has to walk the talk on investigating the February 14 Pulwama attack.

India, they stressed, wants immediate, credible and verifiable action against “terrorists and their proxies”.

Pakistan has to take concrete steps against JeM, the sources said when asked about Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s offer of talks with India. They added that Pakistan was “deliberately whipping up war psychosis and trying to mislead the international community on the situation”.

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