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Truth Always Prevails, Says Pakistani General After Report Claims India Did Not Shoot Down F-16

The report in US magazine Foreign Policy contradicts India's claim that one of its fighter jets shot down a Pakistani F-16 during an aerial dogfight on February 27.

News18.com

Updated:April 5, 2019, 4:11 PM IST
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Truth Always Prevails, Says Pakistani General After Report Claims India Did Not Shoot Down F-16
File photo of Pakistan army spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor (Image: AP)
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New Delhi: Islamabad has latched on to a US magazine report that claimed on Friday that a US count found that none of the F-16 jets supplied to Pakistan were missing. The report contradicts India's claim that one of its fighter jets shot down a Pakistani F-16 during an aerial dogfight on February 27.

Pakistan military spokesperson and Major General Asif Ghafoor retweeted the report and said, “Allah be praised, truth always prevails.”

He claimed that it was time for India to “speak truth about false claims & actual losses on their side including the second aircraft shot down by Pakistan. India needs introspection especially over atrocities in IOK. Region needs peace, progress & prosperity,” he wrote on the micro-blogging site.

Pakistan has repeatedly claimed that it had shot down two Indian jets during the aerial combat on Feb 27, but Delhi says that only one jet – that of Wing Commander Abhinandan – was lost during it. The government had also stated that the IAF pilot had downed an F-16.

But according to a report in Foreign Policy magazine, two senior US defense officials with direct knowledge of the situation said American personnel recently counted Islamabad's F-16s and found none of the planes missing.

"The findings directly contradict the account of Indian Air Force officials, who said that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman managed to shoot down a Pakistani F-16 before his own plane was downed by a Pakistani missile," the report said.

"It is possible that in the heat of combat, Varthaman, flying a vintage MiG-21 Bison, got a lock on the Pakistani F-16, fired, and genuinely believed he scored a hit," the report said.

The report said that evidence also suggests that Pakistan's F-16s were involved in the aerial battle with the Indian Air Force and only the F-16 can shoot a US-made AIM-120 air-to-air missile.

When the incident occurred, India asked the US government to investigate whether Pakistan's use of the F-16 against India violated the terms of the foreign military sale agreements.

The Indian Air Force on February 28 displayed pieces of the AMRAAM missile, fired by a Pakistani F-16, as evidence to "conclusively" prove that Pakistan deployed US-manufactured F-16 fighter jets during an aerial raid targeting Indian military installations in Kashmir.

According to the magazine, Pakistan invited the US to physically count its F-16 planes after the incident as part of an end-user agreement signed when the foreign military sale was finalised. Some of the aircraft were not immediately available for inspection due to the conflict, so it took US personnel several weeks to account for all of the jets, one US official said.

But now the count has been completed, and "all aircraft were present and accounted for," the official said.

The US Department of Defence did not immediately respond to a question on its count of F-16 fighter jets in Pakistan.

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| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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