"BJP's attempt to win elections through whipping up war hysteria and false claims of downing a Pakistani F16 has backfired with US Defence officials also confirming that no F16 was missing from Pakistan's fleet". 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.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Friday contradicted a report by United States publication Foreign Policy that implied India had falsely claimed to have shot down a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) F-16 when fighter aircraft from the two sides clashed on February 27 over Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistani officials rejected Indian claims of hitting any camp or killing a large number of militants before undertaking the retaliatory military action the following day.
Foreign Policy said in a report published on Thursday two USA defence officials with direct knowledge of the matter said US personnel had done a count of Pakistan's F-16s and found none missing.
The count has been completed, and "all aircraft were present and accounted for", the official said.
Foreign Policy magazine rejects Indian claims of shooting Pakistan F-16
Pakistan had initially maintained that no F-16s were deployed against India.
It was during the aftermath of the Pakistani air raids on February 27 that the aerial dogfight that saw Wing Commander Varthaman shot down, and the accompanying Indian claim of shooting down an F-16, took place.
There was no immediate official comment from India on the Foreign Policy report.
Minutes later, at 12:42 pm, the 7 NLI radio operator said: "Enemy ka jo tabah hua parinda wale pakad liye hain, hamne apne unit mein laya".
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A military spokesman Friday hailed the findings by Foreign Policy, saying the "truth always prevails".
"India needs introspection especially over atrocities in IOK [Indian Occupied Kashmir]".
India will need to learn that peace in the region will make genuine and meaningful development possible.The personnel were invited by Pakistan to count its F-16 planes after the incident. "All four missile seeker heads recovered intact from the wreckage and held", Maj Gen said.
The wing commander landed in Pakistan and was captured by Pakistan's armed forces.
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Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday slammed Pakistan for not acting against terrorists operating from its soil despite India providing evidence several times.
In a statement to the Hindustan Times, US defence department reportedly said that the department, "weren't aware of any investigation like that". "It is effectively a slap in India's face". However, a USA inventory on the ground in Pakistan has not found any such planes missing, indicating that India may have misled the worldwide community about the events of that day.
The air strikes were carried out after the JeM terror outfit claimed responsibility for the February 14 Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF troopers were martyred.
Indian officials said the air raid had struck a camp allegedly linked to the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group, which reportedly had claimed responsibility for the February 14 suicide auto bombing in Kashmir's Pulwama district that killed more than 40 Indian security personnel.
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Evidence suggests that Pakistan's F-16s were involved in the battle because the remnants of a US-made AIM-120 air-to-air missile were found near the site.