ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday mocked India’s decision to give a gallantry award to Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, saying the citation of the award to the downed Indian pilot is a “classic case of Indian fabrications and pure fantasy to appease the domestic audience and hide the embarrassment”.
The Foreign Office (FO) was reacting to the gallantry award, the Vir Chakra, third in precedence in wartime gallantry awards, which was awarded to Abhinandan Varthaman by President Ram Nath Kovind for allegedly downing a Pakistani F 16 aircraft, a day ago.
The MiG-21 Bison aircraft that Varthaman was flying was shot down by a jet of the Pakistan Air Force, he was kept in custody and later returned to India. “Pakistan categorically rejects the entirely baseless Indian claims that a Pakistani F-16 aircraft was shot down by an Indian pilot before he was captured by Pakistan in Azad Jammu and Kashmir in February 2019”, said the Foreign Office.
To back up its claim, the FO said that international experts and US officials have already confirmed that no Pakistani F-16 was shot down on the day, after taking stock of Pakistani F-16 aircraft.
“India’s insistence on propagating a lie that has been thoroughly exposed is ludicrous and nonsensical. Granting military honours for imaginary feats of gallantry is contrary to every norm of military conduct. By giving such award, also as an afterthought, India has only made a mockery of itself”, it stated.
Recalling the incident, the FO said that in a daring daylight action, two Indian aircraft were shot down by Pakistan Air Force on 27 February 2019.
“One of the Indian Mig-21 Bison aircraft fell down in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The pilot who ejected, was captured by Pakistan and later released as a goodwill gesture”, it explained. The Indian pilot’s return to India was the testimony of Pakistan’s desire for peace despite India’s hostility and ill-conceived aggressive action.
Recalling facts that the Indian media has also verified, the FO stated another Indian aircraft SU 30 was shot down by Pakistan Air Force and it fell on the other side of LOC. “On the same day, in panic, Indian military shot down its own MI 17 helicopter near Srinagar which initially denied, was accepted later on. The Indian Air Force was completely outplayed on the day, a fact that the Indian media had also reported. It is obvious that India’s farcical story has no credibility whatsoever before the international community,” said the FO.
On its part, Pakistan stands as ready and resolute to thwart any hostile designs as it was in February 2019”, said the FO, and advised India that it would do well to learn a lesson from its botched attempt to violate Pakistan’s sovereignty and refrain from any misadventure in future.
Meanwhile, Pakistan and the United Nations strongly condemned the arrest of human rights activist Mr Khuram Parvez in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K). “Arbitrary arrests of human rights activists on orchestrated charges by Indian occupation forces are clear evidence of New Delhi’s state-terrorism and trampling of fundamental human rights in IIOJK”, said the spokesman at the Foreign Office. Pakistan called on the international community to hold India accountable for continued clampdown against human rights organizations and activists for undertaking their duty to expose gross and systematic human rights violations of Kashmiris in IIOJ&K, and the minorities, especially the Muslims in India. UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Mary Lawlor in a Tweet said, “I am hearing disturbing reports that Khurram Parvez was arrested today in Kashmir and is at risk of being charged by authorities in India with terrorism-related crimes. He is not a terrorist, he is a human rights defender.”
“The UN human rights machinery, independent NGOs and global media have regularly reported on and expressed concerns over increasing intimidation, harassment and reprisal attacks by Indian occupation forces against Kashmiri human rights defenders, journalists and civil society actors since 5 August 2019”, added the Foreign Office.
The spokesman, meanwhile, said it was reprehensible that unwarranted searches by the Indian National Investigation Agency at the offices and residence of Mr Khuram Parvez have also been condemned by international human rights activists and organizations.