Pakistan’s Foreign Office has dismissed India’s claims that a Pakistan Air Force F-16 fighter jet was shot down by an Indian warplane in a recent dogfight over the Kashmir border as “completely baseless”.
In the statement, Islamabad also accused the Indian government of providing a false narrative to “mislead the international community” for domestic political goals.
“The Indian government and the Indian media continue to spread disinformation to mislead the international community, and the Indian people, for domestic political gains, while trying to cover up its failures and resultant embarrassment. False claims of an Indian aircraft having shot down a Pakistani F-16 are completely baseless, meant only to satisfy Indian domestic audience, but in the process, they also exposed their lies one after another”, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said.
The statement came on the heels of remarks by Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, who claimed that New Delhi had eyewitness accounts and electronic evidence to prove the F-16’s downing.
Kumar also said that India had asked the United States to probe the alleged use of American-made fighter jets in the 27 February dogfight in order to determine whether it was in accordance with the terms and conditions of the warplanes’ sale to Islamabad.
The spokesperson also questioned Islamabad’s claims that it had downed two Indian warplanes — New Delhi has only confirmed the loss of one of its MiG-21 Bisons.
“Only one aircraft was lost by us, if, as Pakistan claims, they have a video recording of the downing of a second Indian aircraft, why have they not shown it to the international media even after more than one week? Questions should be asked to them as to where the fuselage of the aircraft is and what has happened to the pilots? As we have already said, there are eyewitness accounts and electronic evidence that Pakistan deployed F-16 aircraft and that one F-16 was shot down by Wing Commander Abhinandan”, Kumar said.
In the meantime, a nationwide opinion poll in India has shown that the coalition led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s National Democratic Alliance was likely to come within a few seats of winning a simple majority in parliament in a general election slated for 11 April.
Indians will be voting for the 545-seat lower house of parliament, and a total of 543 seats will be up for grabs in the upcoming election, which will unfold over seven phases around the country and is set to end on 19 May.
Tensions between India and Pakistan reached a boiling point in late February when the Indian Air Force carried out an air raid against an alleged Jaish-e Mohammad training camp in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. The attack was conducted in retaliation for a suicide bomb attack on a convoy with Indian security forces that killed some 40 soldiers.
Just a day after the IAF strikes on the suspected terror base, Islamabad announced it had brought down two Indian warplanes over the Kashmir border and captured an Indian pilot. While New Delhi confirmed the loss of only one of its MiG-21s, the Indian side also claimed that it had downed a Pakistani F-16, and showed parts of an AMRAAM medium-range missile that was recovered in Indian-administered Kashmir.
The missile is said to have been fired by a US-made jet, but Pakistan has consistently denied losing any F-16s, or deploying them in the first place.