ISLAMABAD/Lahore   -  Prime Minister Imran Khan yesterday appreciated the Pakistan Air Force role in ensuring aerial defence of the country, especially the one displayed during February this year.

The prime minister said this during his visit to the Air Headquarters in Islamabad where he also laid floral wreath at the Martyrs monument.

Besides performing its role for defending the country’s aerial frontiers in a highly professional way, the PAF has remarkable contributions in the war against terrorism, various nation building activities and in projecting the positive image of Pakistan, he said on the occasion.

Earlier, upon his arrival at the Air Headquarters, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan welcomed him and was presented guard of honour.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Advisor to PM on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Defence Production Minister Zubaida Jalal Khan and SAPM Firdous Awan accompanied the PM.

Later, addressing the members of the Sikh religious community in Lahore, Prime Minister Imran Khan assured them that his government will make all efforts to facilitate pilgrims who visit Kartarpur and Nankana Sahib, as well as other Sikh holy sites in different cities of Pakistan.

“This is not a favour, this was our duty,” he the prime minister said. He promised to make access for Sikh pilgrims as easy as possible saying that he realised that Kartarpur and Nankana Sahib were as holy for Sikhs as Makkah and Madinah were for Muslims.

Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar had arranged the first International Sikh convention at the Governor House in Lahore which began on Saturday and was attended by Sikh delegates from the United States, United Kingdom and Europe.

During his address, Prime Minister Imran Khan also addressed the ongoing tensions between India and Pakistan while reiterating that the latter will not initiate any military action but will retaliated with full force in case of any aggression.

The prime minister also said that he will continue to raise his voice for the residents of Indian-occupied Kashmir, who have been under a restrictive lockdown for the past 27 days.

“No one who has any humanity left (in them) can tolerate the current situation in Kashmir. We can never accept that you place eight million people under lockdown for 27 days and cut off all communication.”

Prime Minister Imran further said that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) — believed to be the parent organisation of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — was following a “totalitarian and racist ideology” that was not in accordance with the teachings of any religion.

“The direction in which RSS is taking India has no place for any [minority]. What is happening with Muslims right now in India [...] it will not stop here. If they are not stopped, they will come after the Dalits; they will one day come after the Sikhs.”

The premier pointed out to the convention that his overtures for peace had been dismissed by the Indian government, and the latter had continued to put forward conditions before it would engage. “[They acted] like a superpower does when telling a poor country to do this, do that. I was very surprised,” he said.

“I do not believe that war can solve any problem. Whoever thinks that is not sensible, he has not read world history. If you solve one problem by waging war, four more spring up because of it. Everyone who has tried to solve problems by waging war has lost, even in victory. It takes years for a country to recover from the losses,” the PM added.