Heptulla gives credit to PM for OIC invite, IAF pilot Varthaman's release

Imphal, Mar 4 (PTI) Manipur Governor Najma Heptulla Monday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's diplomatic initiatives helped India get an invitation from the OIC for the first time, and secure the release of IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman from Pakistan's custody.Heptulla also lauded the way External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj presented India's viewpoint concerning Kashmir and terrorism at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conclave in Abu Dhabi.In a major diplomatic achievement, India for the first time addressed the OIC meeting on Friday here, and asserted that the war against terrorism, which was destabilising regions and putting the world at great peril, was not against any religion.India's participation at the OIC meeting came amid heightened tension with Pakistan following the Pulwama terror attack and Balakot air strike.Pakistan had demanded that the invitation to Swaraj be revoked which was turned down by the host UAE, resulting in Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi boycotting the plenary.Addressing the media here, Heptulla said this has happened because of the prime minister's continuous effort over the last five years in creating goodwill and friendship all over the world, especially the Gulf countries, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia.Despite Pakistan's objection, India was invited and Swaraj attended the OIC conclave, she said.The diplomatic relation India shares with the UAE and Saudi Arabia was also a factor in the release of Wing Commander Varthaman from Pakistan's custody, the governor said."It is a moment to be proud of as Indians," she said.Before the influential grouping of 57 Islamic countries, Swaraj described Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part of India, Heptulla said.She said the country got global support for the recent air strike at terrorist camps at Balakot in the aftermath of Pulwama terrorist attack. PTI CORR SBN NN KJ