Published: Sun, April 07, 2019
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Nirmala Sitharaman denies United States magazine's report on Pak F-16

Nirmala Sitharaman denies United States magazine's report on Pak F-16

According to the report, two United States defence officials with direct knowledge of the matter said the USA personnel had done a count of Pakistan's F-16s and found none missing. This fact was strongly denied by India which reitereated that the Indian Air Force had indeed shot down an F-16.

In one of the intercepts of the Pakistan's 7 Northern Light Infantry unit, the Pakistani soldiers could be heard saying that, "ye enemy ka jo tabah hua hai parinda, woh dono parinde wale pakad liye hain (the enemy plane which has been destroyed, we have been able to catch both the pilots from it)".

This is in contradiction to India's claim that it had shot down one Pakistani F-16 using the R-73 missile fired by Wg Cdr Varthaman.

"Generally in such agreements, the United States requires the receiving country to allow United States officials to inspect the equipment regularly to ensure it is accounted for and protected", said the report.

"All aircraft were present and accounted for", the official was quoted as saying by the magazine.

In an apparent reference to Pulwama terror attack, the Congress leader said attacks happen all the time and then referred to the Mumbai terror attack in 2008 when the Congress-led UPA was in power, saying the then government could have sent its planes but that is "not the right approach". Promising to expedite early delivery of the equipment to the Pakistani armed forces in 2007, lieutenant-general Jeffrey B. Kohler, chief of the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, had said: "Our country is very sensitive to Pakistan's defense needs". "BJP's attempt to win elections through whipping up war hysteria and false claims of downing a Pak F 16 has backfired with US Defence officials also confirming that no F16 was missing from Pakistan's fleet".

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IAF also rejected the report in a statement. The two sightings were at locations separated by at least 8-10 km. One was an IAF MiG-21 Bison, which Wing Commander Abhinadan Varthaman was flying and the other a PAF aircraft. He said, "Whether it was F-16 or JF-17 which shot down 2 Indian aircraft is immaterial".

Varthaman was captured by the Pakistani forces and later released as a peace gesture.

"The truth always prevails and is always the best policy", the premier tweeted. The clarification comes amid reports that no F-16 was downed and all PAF F-16s were accounted for. And then when Delhi scurried to jot down a flimsy rebuttal, the Pakistani military revealed more proof to dismantle the very basis of Indian claim.

Foreign media reports from the site, backed by satellite images, also contradicted Indian claims the February 26 counterterrorism cross-border strike had damaged any structure or killed militant casualties.

The Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab said that open-source satellite imagery indicated "only impacts in the wooded area, with no damage being visible to the surrounding structures".

In the next raids, "opposition parties raising these questions can be tied under the that they can look at the targets", thundered junior foreign minister V.K Singh.

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