No Pakistani F-16 shot down by India, US officials confirm


–ISPR DG urges India to speak the truth


Foreign Policy magazine on Friday shot down in flames the Indian claim to have shot down one of Pakistan’s US-built F-16 aircraft during a military flare-up.

A US count of Pakistan’s F-16 jets revealed none to be missing, US officials told Foreign Policy, undercutting India’s position that Indian Air Force (IAF) shot down a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) jet in a clash that also led to the loss of a Soviet-era IAF MiG-21 Bison.

The aerial clash over Kashmir followed an Indian air strike on what New Delhi said was a terrorist training facility inside Pakistani territory.

Islamabad has said consistently that it did not lose an F-16, that it had deployed JF-17 jets jointly built with China against India and that it had destroyed two Indian aircraft, as opposed to the one downed jet India has confirmed. “No Pakistani F16 was hit by Indian airforce,” a statement from Pakistan’s military released Monday read.

Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar did not immediately respond to a phone call and text messages for comment on Friday. In a previous statement in early March, Kumar had said “there are eye-witness accounts and electronic evidence that Pakistan deployed F-16 aircraft and that one F-16 was shot down” by an Indian pilot.

Meanwhile, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Major General Asif Ghafoor also urged India to “speak the truth”.

Chief military spokesperson took to Twitter and said that “[it is] time for India to speak [the] truth about false claims & actual losses on their side including the second aircraft shot down by Pakistan” while adding that “India needs introspection especially over atrocities in IOK”.

Ghafoor again reiterated the official government policy that the “region needs peace, progress & prosperity.”

Tensions between Pakistan and India escalated dramatically on February 14 when a young Kashmiri rammed an explosives-laden car into an Indian paramilitary convoy, killing at least 44 soldiers. India was quick to blame Pakistan for the suicide bombing.

PM Khan offered every possible help in the investigation, but India turned down the offer and whipped up war hysteria.

On February 26, the Indian Air Force (IAF) 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.

A few hours later, PM Khan took the nation into confidence over the armed forces’ response. As escalating tensions fuelled concerns of all-out war between nuclear-tipped Pakistan, the prime minister warned of catastrophic consequences should “better sense” not prevail.

Pakistan later released the captured pilot as a peace gesture, drawing applause from the international community over its efforts for diffusing tensions.