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Timeline of events that led to "world’s biggest tea party" on February 27

  • Two years ago, the PAF had shot down two Indian aircraft inside Pakistani airspace and arrested Indian pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.
Published February 27, 2020 Updated February 27, 2021

Today marks the two-year anniversary of the infamous dogfight between Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and Indian Air Force (IAF) in which Pakistan downed two of India’s top jets. After the Indian forces violated Pakistan's airspace twice, the PAF retaliated and shot down two jets and captured one Indian pilot under ‘Operation Swift Retort’.

It is important however to know how the two nations got into this situation which almost led to an all-out war. Therefore, here’s the timeline of the events that led to the infamous tea party.

February 14, 2019- Bomb blast in Pulwama

At least 44 Indian paramilitary soldiers were killed in Indian-occupied Kashmir when a vehicle carrying explosives rammed into the Central Reserve Police Force (CPRF) convoy on Srinagar-Jammu national highway.

The bomb blast took place in the Lethpora area of Pulwama.  Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) claimed responsibility for the attack.

February 14, 2019- India blames Pakistan for the attack

Following the attack, India blamed Pakistan, accusing it of supporting Jaish-e-Mohammed, in a statement by the Indian Foreign Ministry, “This terror group is led by the international terrorist Masood Azhar, who has been given full freedom by Government of Pakistan to operate and expand his terror infrastructure in territories under the control of Pakistan and to carry out attacks in India and elsewhere with impunity."

February 19, 2019- PM Imran Khan asks India to provide proof

Prime Minister Imran Khan swiftly responded to the allegations of Pakistan's involvement in the Pulwama attack by seeking proof of the accusation. The prime minister asked the Indian government if it had any tangible evidence that a Pakistani was involved in the tragic event in Pulwama. He promised to take action if the Pakistan government was presented with any such evidence.

He also warned India of definite retaliation, should India attack Pakistan at any stage.

“We will not take action because of pressure. We will take action because someone is using the country's soil to carry out terror attacks elsewhere. This is against Pakistan's interest."

February 26, 2019- Indian military planes violate LoC from Muzaffarabad sector


Indian military planes violated the Line of Control (LoC) after which Pakistan Air Force immediately scrambled forcing the Indian jets to retreat.

“Indian aircrafts’ intrusion across LOC in Muzaffarabad Sector within AJ&K was 3-4 miles. Under forced hasty withdrawal aircrafts released payload which had free fall in open area. No infrastructure got hit, no casualties. Technical details and other important information to follow,” the Inter-Services Public Relations said.

February 27, 2019- Indian forces violate Pakistani airspace again 

Following the Indian aircrafts' intrusion across LoC in Muzaffarabad, the Indian forces again crossed the LoC. However, PAF shot down two Indian aircrafts inside Pakistani airspace. One of the aircrafts fell inside Azad Jammu and Kashmir territory while the other fell inside occupied Kashmir.

The Pakistan Army also arrested one Indian pilot, the now infamous, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. Abhinandan was being attacked by the residents of the area when soldiers swiftly came to his rescue and arrested the pilot.

February 28, 2019-PM announces to return Abhinandan as 'peace gesture'

Making it clear to India that Pakistan's efforts for de-escalation should not be considered as weakness, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced on the floor of the Parliament Pakistan's decision to return captured pilot Abhinandan.

“In our desire of peace, I announce that tomorrow, and as a first step to open negotiations, Pakistan will be releasing the Indian Air Force officer in our custody," the PM said.

Very impressed by Pakistan Army : Abhinandan

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) released a video which showed the captive Indian Air Force officer, Wing Commander Abhinandan, acknowledging that the Pakistan Army had treated him well and upheld the laws of the Geneva Convention.

"I'd like to put this on record; I will not change my statement even when I go back to my country. The officers of the Pakistan Army have looked after me very well," he said. Speaking about the Indian media the pilot added, “Indian media always stretches the truth. The smallest of things are presented in a very incendiary manner and people get misled".

March 1, 2019-Pakistan returns Abhinandan 

As promised by the PM, Pakistan returned the captured Indian pilot as a peace gesture.


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