Indian Air Force (IA) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman in a video message slammed Indian media for negative coverage of the India-Pakistan tensions, narrating the entire episode of how he was captured after his MiG 21 jet was shot down by Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in violation of Pakistani airspace near Line of Control (Control).
“My name is Wing Commander Abhinandan,” he stated for the record in the statement.
Abhinandan, who remained in Pakistan’s custody for past few days and was released through Wagah Border, said two soldiers of the Pakistan Army rescued him from the mob.
“I am a fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force. I was in search of the target when your [Pakistan] Air Force shot me down. I had to eject the plane which had sustained damage. As soon as I ejected and when my parachute opened and when I fell down, I had a pistol with me.”
“There were many people. I had only one way to save myself: I dropped my pistol and tried to run,” he was heard saying in the video.
“Pakistan Army is a very professional service… I have been impressed,” he said in the video message.
He said his fighter jet had been shot due to which he had to use the emergency evacuation, adding that he had violated Pakistan’s airspace to hit some targets.
“People chased me, their emotions were running high. Just then, two Pakistani Army officials came and saved me. Pakistani army captains saved from the people and did not let any harm come to me. They took me to their unit where I was administered first aid and then I was taken to the hospital where I further underwent a medical exam and received more aid,” he said.
“The Pakistan Army is a very professional service. I see peace in it. I have spent time with the Pakistan Army [and] I am very impressed.”
“Indian media always stretches the truth,” he regretted. “The smallest of things are presented in a very incendiary manner and people get misled.”
CAPTURED INDIAN PILOT:
On February 26, the Indian Air Force violated Pakistani airspace. The country’s top civil and military leadership declared the violation of airspace by Indian fighter jets “uncalled for aggression” and decided that the country would respond at a “time and place of its choosing”.
On February 27, Pakistan announced it had shot down two Indian fighter jets that attempted to violate its airspace and captured an Indian pilot. The military’s media wing later released a video of the pilot, who introduced himself as Wing Commander Abhinandan bearing service number 27981.
Pakistani military’s spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said in a press conference that the armed forces had responsibly retaliated to Indian incursion by striking a target few miles from an Indian military’s administrative unit to ensure there were no human life or collateral damage.
“We decided to not hit a military target or endanger human life. We did not want to retaliate at the cost of regional peace. We do not want escalation,” he told reporters.
A few hours later, Prime Minister Imran Khan took the nation into confidence over the armed forces’ response. As escalating tensions fuelled concerns of all-out war between nuclear-tipped Pakistan, Imran warned of catastrophic consequences should “better sense” not prevail.
The premier ended his speech with another peace talks offer and cooperation in Pulwama attack investigation to India.
A day earlier, the top political leadership of the country was given an in-camera briefing at the Parliament House.
Opposition parties expressed satisfaction over the briefing mainly conducted by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor.
An official handout issued by the National Assembly Secretariat said: “The forum unanimously expressed that they stand united against any aggression against Pakistan and will support the government and its institutions unconditionally.”
It said the participants also “expressed hope that those who want peace and stability will prevail as war is not an option but a failure of policy”.