Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday criticised India’s ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) for whipping up war hysteria – in an attempt to attain more seats in the upcoming general elections – and said the false claims of downing a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) F-16 fighter have backfired.
The premier’s tweet comes a day after US State Department officials confirmed that Pakistan’s F-16 fleet is accounted for, debunking Indian claims of a kill against the PAF. The aerial skirmish on February 27, led to the downing of two Indian Air Force fighter aircraft and also resulted in a blue on blue kill on a IAF Mi-17 transport helicopter.
“The truth always prevails and is always the best policy.”
The truth always prevails and is always the best policy. BJP’s attempt to win elections through whipping up war hysteria and false claims of downing a Pak F 16 has backfired with US Defence officials also confirming that no F16 was missing from Pakistan’s fleet.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) April 6, 2019
Pakistan invited US officials to physically count the F-16 planes after the incident. Some of the aircraft were not immediately available for inspection due to the conflict, so it took US personnel several weeks to account for all of the jets, one of the officials said.
Foreign Policy said in the report that two US defence officials with direct knowledge of the matter said US personnel had done a count of Pakistan’s F-16s and found none missing.
The count had now been completed and all aircraft “were present and accounted for”, the official said.
The F-16s are made by Lockheed Martin and, under an end-user agreement, the United States required the host country to allow for regular inspections to ensure they were accounted for and protected, Foreign Policy said.
The aircraft count disproves Indian Air Force (IAF) claims that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman shot down a Pakistani F-16 before his own plane was downed by a Pakistani missile.
The on ground, physical count conducted by US authorities not only casts doubt on the Indian claims but also suggests that India may have deliberately misled the international community.
The news comes at a time when India is gearing up for its general elections and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is looking to be elected for another term. Even though the news may not sway the vote bank but it does impact the way India will be looked at in the future.