US press highlights PM Imran Khan’s peace offer to India amid escalating tensions


American print and electronic media Thursday featured Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s offer of dialogue to India aimed at de-escalating the heightened tensions between the two countries after Pakistani jets shot down two Indian war planes.

While it is too early for editorial comments, some officials, academics and experts have made favourable comments.

In an op-ed piece published in The New York Times on Thursday, internationally acclaimed Pakistani author Fatima Bhutto welcomed Prime Minister Khan’s peace gesture to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, saying, “It is the only moral stand that either country can take.”Pointing out that over the years Pakistan had suffered a lot of terrorist violence,  she said “my generation of Pakistanis has no tolerance, no appetite, for jingoism or war. In the afternoon, #saynotowar began to trend in Pakistan, before hitting the worldwide No. 1 spot on Twitter.”

Ms. Bhutto wrote, “I and many other young Pakistanis have called upon our country to release the captured Indian pilot as a gesture of our commitment to peace, humanity, and dignity. We have spent a lifetime at war. I do not want to see Pakistani soldiers die. I do not want to see Indian soldiers die. We cannot be a subcontinent of orphans.

“My generation of Pakistanis have fought for the right to speak, and we are not afraid to lend our voices to that most righteous cause: peace.”

“What we have seen is certainly an escalation, but I thought that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s call for dialogue was something that Prime Minister Modi will find very difficult to ignore,” Gary Samore, former White House official, and arms control negotiator, said.

“There is a lot of international pressure on both India and Pakistan to avoid further clashes,” he added.

Officially, the U.S. has urged India and Pakistan to refrain from further military action as international pressure builds on them to bring their hostilities to an end.

“The potential risks associated with further military action by either side are unacceptably high for both countries, their neighbours, and the international community,” an unnamed White House National Security Council official told Bloomberg News. Meanwhile, a New Delhi-datelined dispatch in the Times said:

“Although both India and Pakistan say they want to resolve the current crisis diplomatically, the two governments may be beholden to their electorates, amid calls for firm military responses from both sides of the border.

“In Pakistan, with the capture of the Indian pilot, the current crisis has shored up support for Mr. Khan, who took office six months ago and has since faced growing opposition domestically.

“The crisis has not presented such an opportunity for (Prime Minister) Mr. (Narendra) Modi, who seemed destined just a year ago to clinch a second term as India’s prime minister. Since then, Mr. Modi has faced considerable opposition over what critics say is his mishandling of the economy ahead of the elections this spring.

“The capture of the Indian pilot may only weaken his position and lead to a dangerous escalation if Mr. Modi chooses to respond militarily.”

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