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Statement on Abhinandan misleading, disappointing: We gave them a bloody nose and it is still hurting, says ISPR DG

Top Story

October 30, 2020

RAWALPINDI/ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Army Thursday strongly reacted to the accusatory statements of PML-N leaders, given in the National Assembly on Wednesday, on the release of Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman in March last year.

DG Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Babar Iftikhar told reporters at the General Headquarters here that such statements were unacceptable to any Pakistani and were equal to making the nation's victory and supremacy over India after Pulwama incident controversial.

In view of sensitivity of the issue, Gen Babar said he would speak on the single-point agenda and it was basically for setting the record straight.

"Yesterday, a statement was given in which facts related to a security issue were deteriorated," he said.

Gen Babar also pointed out that such negative narrative could also have direct impact on national security, as the enemy could benefit from such narrative in the information domain and one could witness the same on the Indian media that day.

"The same narrative is being used to lessen the intensity of defeat and humiliation which the enemy suffered," he said.

He said on February 26, 2019, India violating all international laws, committed aggression against Pakistan.

“It not only suffered defeat, but also faced humiliation in the comity of nations. A befitting response by the alert armed forces of Pakistan foiled the nefarious designs of the enemy,” he said.

He said the enemy aircraft, which had planned to use ammunition against Pakistanis, dropped the same on empty mountains in frustration on seeing the 'Shaheens' [Pakistani pilots].

He said the armed forces of Pakistan, as per aspirations and respect of the nation, decided to teach the enemy a lesson. He said it was a joint decision of the civil and military leadership to set the pilot free.

Gen Babar said not only an effective response was given to the enemy but its two Indian aircraft were also shot down.

“We responded with full might in the light of day and shot down two planes, along with arresting their pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan [Varthaman]. They shot down their own helicopter in frustration and killed their own military personnel," the DG ISPR said.

He said with the grace of Almighty Allah, Pakistan got categorical victory against India and its armed forces emerged victorious, making the nation proud.

"The victory of Pakistan was not only recognized by India, but also shifted the blame for defeat to unavailability of Rafale aircraft," he said.

Gen Babar said Pakistan, being a responsible state and giving another chance to peace in the region, decided to release Abhinandan.

"The Pakistani decision, which was in accordance with the Geneva Convention, was also praised by the international community," he said.

He made it clear that Pakistan first demonstrated its capabilities and resolve.

"The decision was taken by keeping in view war options and with a position of strength," he said.

He said the Pakistani leadership and armed forces were ready to meet any situation.

"We gave them a bloody nose and it is still hurting them," he said. He noted that it was misleading and regrettable to link release of Abhinandan with any other matter, as the act was a responsible and mature response of Pakistan.

He said at a time when external powers had imposed hybrid war on Pakistan, "we will have to move forward carefully”.

He said the armed forces were closely watching the security situation in the region.

"We are not only aware of all internal and external threats, but are also ready to meet all challenges," he said, adding that the armed forces with the support of Pakistani nation would not only foil conspiracies, but also give befitting response to any aggression.

To a question whether such statements could be an effort to create differences between the leadership and jawans, he said the armed forces were an organized institution, while its leadership and ranks and files were like a unit and would remain so Insha Allah.

"Neither any differences can be created between them nor they can be separated from each other," he said.

General Babar regretted that efforts were being made to make the armed forces controversial.

"There is anger within the armed forces over such statements," he said.

He said as a spokesman for the Pakistan Army he could not speak half-truth. He said what he stated about Zubair Umar's meeting with Army Chief was on record.

PML-N leader Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, on the floor of the National Assembly, claimed on Wednesday that the government bowed to knees while releasing Abhinandan.

Khawaja Asif said the Army Chief, who also attended the meeting, expressed the hope that India would give a positive response to Pakistan's gesture.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Thursday dismissed PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq’s statement on the circumstances in which Indian pilot Abhinandan was released, saying "responsible people are making irresponsible statements."

Ayaz Sadiq had on the floor of the National Assembly stated that Abhinandan was released after India applied pressure and threatened to attack Pakistan.

He pointed out that the release of the Indian pilot was being made controversial without any reason and simply for political purposes.

The foreign minister expressed his surprise over the statement of Ayaz Sadiq and said he did not expect him of saying that Abhinandan was released under pressure.

“This is far from the truth,” he added.

Qureshi said the government had taken all parliamentary leaders into confidence on intelligence reports, but the captured Indian pilot was not mentioned in that meeting.

“Highly irresponsible statements are being issued for political gains; responsible people are talking irresponsibly, which is surprising,” Qureshi said.

Former defence minister and PML-N leader Khawaja Asif admitted in Parliament that the PML-N and PPP had also supported the release of Abhinandan in a meeting with General Bajwa.

Earlier, this year in an interview the foreign minister had said, "There was neither compulsion nor pressure to release the Indian pilot. We wanted to give them [New Delhi] the message that we don't want to mistreat your citizens; we don't want your suffering to increase. We want peace."

On Thursday, Qureshi slammed the opposition for its stance on Indian spy Kulbhushan, advising them to read the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding the case as well as Pakistan’s stance on the matter.

The foreign minister said Pakistan simply did not want to give India another opportunity to take the country to the ICJ.

“These people are misleading the nation on the issues of Kulbhushan and Abhinandan,” said the foreign minister.

Meantime, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa Thursday called on Prime Minister Imran Khan to discuss professional matters pertaining to the Pakistan Army and internal and external security situation.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Imran Khan and Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa discussed the prevailing internal and external security situation, besides professional matters pertaining to the Pakistan Army.

Taking into account recent efforts to stoke violence in Pakistan, Imran resolved that the entire nation was united against the cowardly acts of the enemy.

The premier paid tribute to the personnel of Pakistan Army, FC and law-enforcement agencies, who sacrificed their lives for the defence of the motherland.

The COAS, in a statement a day earlier, asserted that the armed forces would not rest till militancy was eliminated from across Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz Thursday said PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq’s statement on the release of IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was meant to please the enemy.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Thursday, he said,” Our brave Shaheens had shot down two Indian Air Force jets, while India blamed unavailability of Rafael jets for the defeat.”

He said the opposition was only trying to disrupt the entire system for personal gains and spread chaos in the country.

“The opposition wants to benefit their leaders who are facing serious corruption charges,” he continued.

Addressing the PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq, Shibli Faraz said, “You are turning the victory of our country into defeat. Who are you to do this? It seems they (opposition) want to embarrass Pakistan on the world stage and to also divide the army,” he added.

Shibli asked Ayaz to tender an apology in the Parliament or get ready to face the legal action.

“All other things are secondary and national interest is supreme at this point of time," he said, adding, “We will not put Ayaz Sadiq’s statement, which has pleased India, on the backburner.”

The minister said the PML-N leader would have to apologize to the nation in the Parliament for harming the national interest by making an anti-state statement that appeased India. “For this, the public will hold him accountable,” he added.

The leadership of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), he said, should also seek apology from the nation, and condemn Ayaz and their own anti-state statements, made in public meetings or in the Parliament.

“Nothing less than this [apology] will be acceptable. It stands clear now that whosoever causes harm to national interest cannot be a well-wisher of the state. It [anti-state remarks] is sheer violation of Article 19 of the Constitution, which does not permit any statement against the state.”

Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar Thursday revealed that Pakistan had received intelligence reports on February 27, 2019 that India was preparing to attack at 9:00pm, but the attack never materialized because Islamabad had promised a crippling counter-attack to New Delhi in response.

He was responding to PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq, who had claimed a day earlier that IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was freed because the Pakistani government had been under pressure and feared there would be an attack from the Indian side.

Sadiq wondered why the downed pilot was returned even though the attack in question never materialized.

Responding to the former National Assembly speaker's comments, Asad said the reason the attack did not materialize only because New Delhi had been warned that Pakistan knew of its intentions and that there would be a disproportionate response if the attack was carried out.

Umar said he had been part of the meeting that Ayaz Sadiq had spoken about.

"Abhinandan's release was not even discussed. The matter was actually discussed the next day for the very first time," tweeted Umar, wondering why such a "white lie" was spoken and whom it was meant to please.