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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday termed the gallantry award conferred on Abhinandan Varthaman, the downed Indian pilot who was captured following his MiG 29 Bison was shot down by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and later returned to New Delhi, as “a classic case of Indian fabrications and pure fantasy to appease domestic audience and hide the embarrassment.”

Reacting to India’s conferring the military award on Abhinandan for never downing a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) F-16 jet in February 2019, Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmad reiterated Pakistan’s categorical rejection of the Indian claims of downing the country’s F-16 aircraft in February 2019 as baseless.

“Pakistan categorically rejects the entirely baseless Indian claims that a Pakistani F-16 aircraft was shot down by an Indian pilot before he was captured by Pakistan in Azad Jammu and Kashmir in February 2019,” the spokesperson said.

“The citation of the award to the downed Indian pilot is a classic case of Indian fabrications and pure fantasy to appease domestic audience and hide the embarrassment,” he said, adding that international experts and US officials have already confirmed that no Pakistani F-16 was shot down on the day, after taking stock of Pakistani F-16 aircraft.

“India’s insistence on propagating a lie that has been thoroughly exposed is ludicrous and nonsensical. Granting military honours for imaginary feats of gallantry is contrary to every norm of military conduct. By giving such award, also as an afterthought, India has only made a mockery of itself,” the spokesperson added.

The spokesperson recalled that in a daring day light action, two Indian aircraft were shot down by PAF on 27th February 2019. One of the Indian Mig-21 Bison aircraft fell down in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, he said, adding that the pilot who ejected was captured by Pakistan and later released as a “goodwill gesture”.

“His return to India was testimony of Pakistan’s desire for peace despite India’s hostility and ill-conceived aggressive action. Another Indian aircraft SU 30 shot down by Pakistan Air Force fell on the other side of LOC [Line of Control],” he added.

On the same day, in panic, Indian military shot down its own MI 17 helicopter near Srinagar which initially denied, was accepted later on. Indian Air Force was completely outplayed on the day.

“It is obvious that India’s farcical story has no credibility whatsoever before the international community,” the spokesperson added.

On its part, he added that Pakistan stands as ready and resolute to thwart any hostile designs as it was in February 2019.

“India would do well to learn a lesson from its botched attempt to violate Pakistan’s sovereignty and refrain from any misadventure in future,” the spokesperson warned.

Earlier on Monday, the IAF’s pilot Varthaman Abhinandan, was awarded the Vir Chakra – the third highest Indian military award during wartime – by President Ram Nath Kovind at a ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhawan for an alleged “downing of a Pakistan’s F-16 fighter jet” in February 2019.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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