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Balakot Crisis Unveiled: Imran Khan’s Midnight Plea For Dialogue With PM Modi To Avert Military Escalation

On February 27, 2019, then Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan requested a midnight panic call to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a bid to avert a military crisis, a new book by former diplomat Ajay Bisaria has revealed.

Edited By : Priyanka Negi | Updated: Jan 8, 2024 19:32 IST
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In the wake of the Balakot airstrikes in 2019, former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan reportedly made a late-night, panic-stricken call to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 27, in an effort to prevent a potential military crisis.

This revelation comes from the pages of Ajay Bisaria’s book, ‘The Anger Management: The Troubled Diplomatic Relationship between India and Pakistan,’ where the former India High Commissioner in Pakistan sheds light on the behind-the-scenes events that unfolded during a period of heightened tension between the two neighboring nations.

The genesis of this crisis dates back to February 14, 2019, when a terrorist attack on Indian paramilitary personnel in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir, prompted the Indian Air Force to conduct airstrikes on terror hideouts in Pakistan on February 26, 2019. In response to these airstrikes, Pakistan, on the night of February 27, allegedly received credible intelligence suggesting that nine Indian missiles were poised to strike Pakistani territory.

Tehmina Janjua, then Pakistan Foreign Secretary, reportedly received a message from the Army, conveying the imminent threat. In response, Janjua urged envoys to report this intelligence to their respective capitals and requested India not to escalate the situation, as detailed in Bisaria’s account.

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As tensions escalated, Imran Khan took a decisive step by seeking urgent dialogue with Prime Minister Modi. This midnight call, according to Bisaria, was facilitated by the then Pakistani High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood, who contacted his counterpart in Delhi. Bisaria, in his book, recalls being informed by Mahmood that Imran Khan was keen to talk to Modi.

At around midnight, I got a call in Delhi from Pakistani High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood, now in Islamabad, who said that PM Imran Khan was keen to talk to Prime Minister Modi. I checked upstairs and responded that our prime minister was not available at that hour, but in case Imran Khan had any urgent message to convey, he could, of course, convey it to me. I got no call back that night,” Bisaria says in his book.

Later that night, the US and UK envoys in Delhi told India’s foreign secretary that Pakistan was “ready to de-escalate the situation, act on India’s dossier, and to seriously address the issue of terrorism”, noted Bisaria.

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First published on: Jan 08, 2024 07:32 PM IST

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