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DG ISPR calls political statement about Abhinandan release an attempt to ‘distort history’

The Pakistani military has dismissed as nothing more than an “attempt to distort history” a recent political statement given about the release of an Indian pilot captured by Pakistani troops after downing his warplane during last year’s military confrontation that took the two countries to the brink of an all-out war.

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was arrested after his MiG-21 Bison was shot down by Pakistani jets in a dogfight after it crossed the Line of Control in Azad Jammu and Kashmir on February 29, 2019. However, the government released him 60 hours after his arrest as a “gesture of peace”.

Addressing a press conference with a one-point agenda, the DG ISPR said he sought to “correct the record” regarding the events that surrounded India’s violation of Pakistani airspace last year in February.

“A statement was given yesterday which tried to distort the history of issues associated with national security,” he said.

The DG ISPR said following the attack on Indian troops in occupied Kashmir’s Pulwama area, India “showed aggression against Pakistan in violation of all international laws on February 26, 2019, in which not only did it face defeat but was humiliated around the world”.

“Pakistani armed forces’ alert and timely response foiled the enemy’s designs. The enemy planes that had come to drop the explosives on the Pakistani people escaped while dropping their payload on empty mountains in panic after seeing our Shaheens.”

He said the Pakistani forces “decided to teach the enemy a lesson in response” to the attack and country’s entire civil and military leadership was united in the decision.

“Pakistan responded to India in broad daylight after announcing it. Not only did we give an appropriate reply, but also shot down two enemy war planes [and] Wing Commander Abhinandan was captured.

“During these actions, the enemy became so frightened that it shot down its own helicopter and troops in a state of panic. […] This victory not only exposed India’s hollow claims of power before the world but made the entire Pakistani nation proud,” he said.

The ISPR chief said Pakistan’s victory was “not only acknowledged by the world” but the Indian leadership had attributed their forces’ failure to the absence of Rafale fighter jets.

“Being a responsible state, the Government of Pakistan in order to give peace another chance decided to release Indian prisoner of war Wing Commander Abhinandan,” he added, emphasising that this decision, which was in line with the Geneva Convention, was praised the world over.

“I want to make it clear once again for the sake of record that Pakistan first showed its capability and resolve and this decision was taken keeping in view all warfare options from a position of strength. Pakistan’s leadership and the armed forces were fully prepared to deal with any situation.

“We gave them a bloody nose and it is still hurting,” he said while referring to Pakistan’s response to India’s violation of its airspace.

“It is extremely disappointing and misleading to link Wing Commander Abhinandan’s release with anything other than a responsible state’s mature response.

“This is in fact equivalent to making controversial the Pakistani nation’s clear supremacy and victory over India, and I think this is not acceptable to any Pakistani.”

Maj Gen Iftikhar said such “negative narrative directly affects national security and the enemy is taking thorough advantage of these things in the information domain and you all can see a glimpse of this in the Indian media”.

“This same narrative is being used to minimise India’s defeat and loss,” he continued. “In these conditions, when enemy forces have imposed a hybrid war on Pakistan, we will all have to move forward with great responsibility.”

He said the Pakistan Army “is keeping a close eye on the regional security situation and is not only aware of internal and external threats but is also ready to counter all kinds of challenges”.

“With the nation’s help, we will foil every conspiracy against Pakistan and give proportionate response to any aggression,” he added.

Asked by a journalist to give his take on some “recent statements which could create a rift between the armed forces’ leadership and soldiers”, the DG ISPR said: “The armed forces are an organised institution and its leadership and rank and file cannot be separated.

“No difference can be created between the leadership and rank and file of the armed forces. There is a unity and it will remain.”



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