ISLAMABAD: The ‘Vir Chakra,’ a wartime military bravery award bestowed on Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Group Captain Abhinandan Varthaman, who was shot down by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and later returned to India, was dubbed a “classic case of Indian fabrication and pure fantasy to appease the domestic audience” by Pakistan on Tuesday.
A day after Abhinandan was honoured by Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, the Foreign Office (FO) dismissed a “completely unfounded” Indian allegation that the Indian pilot shot down an F-16 before being detained by Pakistan in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) in February 2019.
“The citation of the award to the downed Indian pilot is a classic case of Indian fabrications and pure fantasy to appease the domestic audience and hide the embarrassment,” said the FO in its statement.
Indian media had been claiming that Abhinandan had shot down a Pakistani F-16 fighter aircraft during aerial combat on February 27, 2019, a claim both Pakistan and later the United States had rejected.
The FO on Tuesday reminded India that the international experts and the US officials had 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,” it said.
The FO insisted that granting military honours for “imaginary feats of gallantry was contrary to every norm of military conduct.”
“By giving such award, also as an afterthought, India has only made a mockery of itself,” it said.
Two Indian aircraft were shot down by Pakistan Air Force on February 27, 2019. One of the Indian Mig-21 Bison aircraft had fallen in the AJK. The pilot, Abhinandan, who had ejected was captured by Pakistan and later released as a goodwill gesture.
His return to India was a 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.
On the same day, in panic, the Indian military shot down its own MI 17 helicopter near Srinagar, which was initially denied, was accepted later on. The IAF was completely outplayed on the day.
“It is obvious that India’s farcical story has no credibility whatsoever before the international community,” continued in its statement and added, “On its part, 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,” maintained the FO.