IAF rejects United States magazine report, says Pak F-16 was shot down

Arturo Kim
April 7, 2019

This was in direct contradiction to India's claim that IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman shot down a Pakistani F-16 with his MiG-21 Bison before his plane was downed.

The Foreign Policy in its report, quoting two unidentified United States defence sources, said that U.S. defence personnel recently conducted a physical count of Pakistan's F-16s and found that none of them were missing. It did not identify the officers.

The IAF said, "sitting ejection" at two different places took place on February 27, "one was an IAF MIG 21 Bison and the other a Pak aircraft".

Even as the tension remains high between India and Pakistan after the Pulwama terror attack and the ensuing cross-border engagements, a new report claims that New Delhi is prepared to launch another strike against its neighbour. "But the count, conducted by USA authorities on the ground in Pakistan, sheds doubt on New Delhi's version of events, suggesting that Indian authorities may have misled the global community about what happened that day", the magazine added.

There was no Indian or US official reaction to the report.

Although the report is not likely to sway Indian voters, Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at MIT, said the way the events had unfolded might affect India's efforts to deter Pakistan in the future.

During the aerial battle that ensued, Varthaman's jet took a missile hit but he ejected safely into Pakistani territory.

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"When you have people like Sam Pitroda and Farooq Abdullah and other Congress leaders, distrusting their own government and their own armed forces, obviously you are going to strengthen the hand of the people and the parties, and the countries, who are harbouring terrorism", the BJP leader said at a press conference when asked about Mr Khan's remarks.

Independent reporting by multiple local and worldwide outlets who visited the site also found no evidence of a major terrorist training camp - or of any infrastructure damage at all.

"When the incident occurred, India asked the USA government to investigate whether Pakistan's use of the F-16 against India violated the terms of the foreign military sale agreements", according to Foreign Policy magazine. It attributed the finding to two unidentified senior USA defence officials and said the count was conducted at the invitation of Pakistan.

The US state department has said that it is "taking a look" on the use of F16 by Pakistan on February 27.

Pakistan will release 360 Indian prisoners this month, the foreign office said on Friday, as the nuclear-armed neighbours scale back from a confrontation that prompted world powers to urge restraint. "All four missile seeker heads recovered intact from the wreckage and held", Maj Gen said. One of them was released as a "peace gesture" several days later. And yet it was Ghafoor who had earlier said that JF-17 Thunder, developed jointly by Pakistan and China, had been used in the dogfight.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday remarked that attempts of the Indian ruling party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), to win general elections have backfired.

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