Pakistan PM accuses India of war hysteria over downed F-16 claim

A Pakistani F-16 fighter jet

The defence minister was referring to the media report in a Foreign Policy magazine in U.S., which claimed that all the F-16 fighter planes given by America to Pakistan have been found to be "intact and accounted for" during a recent physical count.

The officials told the Foreign Policy journal that the United States personnel recently counted Islamabad's F-16s and found none missing.

In response to a query on USA media reports that questioned IAF version of Pakistan F-16 shot down by IAF MIG 21 Bison, IAF sources said that Wg Cdr Varthaman shot down Pakistan Air Force F-16 aircraft 7-8 km inside Pakistan Occupied Area in Sabzkot area. Indian Air Force on February 28 displayed pieces of the AMRAAM missile, fired by a Pakistani F-16 in a joint press conference as evidence to "conclusively" prove that Pakistan used US-manufactured F-16 fighter jets during an aerial raid targeting Indian military.

The sources also said that intercepted radio communication of PAF revealed that one of their F-16s that was involved in the attack on India did not return to its base. "Time for India to speak truth about false claims and actual losses on their side, including the second aircraft shot down by Pakistan", the chief military spokesperson, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, wrote on Twitter. After the February 27 dogfight, India had complained to the U.S. that Pakistan misused the F-16 and also showed as evidence a piece of an AMRAAM (advanced medium-range air-to-air missile) that can be only fired from a US-made F-16 which are with PAF.

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

"They were intercepted by IAF's Su30-MKI, Mirage 2000 and Mig 21 Bison fighters guided by ground radars and AWACS". The sources said that while one of the ejections was of an IAF MIG 21 Bison, the other was of a PAF aircraft.

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"All attempts of PAF to attack any targets were thwarted by the IAF".

The Indian Air Force Friday asserted that it had shot down an F-16 aircraft of the Pakistan Air Force.

Another official said in the general area where Wg Cdr Varthaman was engaged in aerial combat, only F-16s were present. During the engagement that followed, a Mig-21 Bison of the IAF shot down a F-16 in Nowshera sector.

"When you have people like Sam Pitroda and Farooq Abdullah and other Congress leaders, distrusting their own government and their own armed forces, obviously you are going to strengthen the hand of the people and the parties, and the countries, who are harbouring terrorism", the BJP leader said at a press conference when asked about Mr Khan's remarks. The two places are separated by a distance of around 8 to 10 kms.

The F-16s are made by Lockheed Martin and, under an end-user agreement, the United States required the host country to allow for regular inspections to ensure they were accounted for and protected, Foreign Policy said.

No sooner than the magazine report was out on Saturday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said, "The truth always prevails and is always the best policy..."

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