–PAF conducts strikes across LoC from Pakistani airspace, shoots down two MIG-21 jets that intruded LoC
–Pakistan Army arrests IAF’s Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, other pilot reportedly dead after his plane crashed on Indian side of LoC
–Pakistani military spokesman says PAF engaged six targets at LoC but chose not to strike military installations ‘because we are a responsible state and want peace’
–Rules out nuclear strike, says ‘it is insane to talk about this… it is a capability and a weapon of political choice’
RAWALPINDI: A day after Indian Air Force (IAF) jets violated the Line of Control (LoC), Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on Wednesday conducted strikes across the LoC from Pakistani airspace and shot down two Indian MIG-21 aircraft that had crossed the de-facto border.
An Indian pilot, identified as Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, was taken into custody by Pakistan Army troops after his aircraft crashed within Pakistani territory while the other aircraft downed by PAF crashed on the Indian side of the LoC.
According to a Reuters report, police officials in Indian-occupied Kashmir said that two Indian pilots and a civilian had died after an IAF plane crashed in Kashmir. They also claimed that three Pakistani jets had also entered Indian airspace, before being intercepted and forced to turn back.
Addressing a press conference later in the day, Pakistani military’s chief spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said that the action on Wednesday “was in self defence; we do not want to claim any victory”.
“The way we set out target and made sure that there were no collateral damage — the in-built message was that despite out capability, we look towards peace,” said the director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
— Radio Pakistan (@RadioPakistan) February 27, 2019
“Today morning, Pakistan Air Force engaged six targets at the LoC. Because we are a responsible state and want peace, we decided that we will not use any military target.
“As a result of engaging our target, no human life was affected. Staying within our jurisdiction, six targets were locked. And we carried out the strike,” said the army spokesperson.
“Pakistan is not pushing the environment towards war,” he made it clear, adding that Pakistan deliberately and thoughtfully avoided escalation.
“If that were the case [that Pakistan wanted to escalate], we could have easily engaged the [military] targets, which our air force had locked. That would have resulted in human casualties and collateral damage as well.
“We [instead] engaged a nearby open space where there were no human lives or military posts. We deliberately avoided the escalation. We only wanted to demonstrate that we could have easily taken the original target, which was their administrative setup and military post. But we did not do that,” he reiterated.
The military spokesperson also rubbished reports that a PAF F-16 had been shot down inside occupied Kashmir.
“Indian media was saying that they shot down a Pakistani F-16. Firstly, Pakistan did not use F-16s in the entire action and there is no news that a Pakistan plane was downed,” he said.
The spokesperson also publicly announced the closure of the Pakistani airspace.
“The airspace is closed due to the [security] environment,” he said.
Regarding the upcoming meeting of the National Command Authority and potential use of nuclear weapons, the DG said: “I have always said that we must not talk about this [a nuclear strike]. It is insane to talk about this. It is a capability and a weapon of political choice. Neither is this our level nor is this a topic that should be talked about.”
“Pakistan’s response is actually not a retaliation,” he again clarified. “It is the demonstration of our capability, capacity and will. We stayed within the domain of responsibility as a state that has the potential [to respond].
“We don’t want to escalate the situation. It is up to India now if they [choose to] go for the way that we have suggested and which is the requirement of this region: peace. But it is understood that if aggression is imposed on us, then we will respond. But that will be under compulsion,” he added.
NON-MILITARY TARGET ATTACKED:
“Pakistan has taken strikes at a non-military target, avoiding human loss and collateral damage,” the Foreign Office’s earlier statement had said about the strikes across the LoC earlier in the day.
“The sole purpose of this action was to demonstrate our right, will, and capability for self-defense. We do not wish to escalate but are fully prepared if forced into that paradigm,” he asserted.
#Pakistanstrikesback #PAF undertook strikes across LoC from Pakistani airspace. Sole purpose of this action was to demonstrate our right, will and capability for self defence. We do not wish to escalate but are fully prepared if forced into that paradigm#PakistanZindabad
— Dr Mohammad Faisal (@ForeignOfficePk) February 27, 2019
“For the last few years, India has been trying to establish what they call ‘a new normal’, a thinly-veiled term for acts of aggression at whatever pretext they wish on a given day.
“If India is striking at so-called ‘terrorist backers’ without a shred of evidence, we also retain reciprocal rights to retaliate against elements that enjoy Indian patronage while carrying out acts of terror in Pakistan. We do not wish to go to that route and wish that India gives peace a chance and to resolve issues like a mature democratic nation,” the statement had added.
‘PAKISTAN DID NOT ESCALATE, INDIA DID’:
After the airstrike, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told a private media outlet that “Pakistan acted peacefully, and did not escalate unlike India”.
“We exposed their aggressive strategies and false claims and gave the international community a chance to observe and judge India’s claims,” he added. I want India to understand that this is a new Pakistan and there is new enthusiasm and bravery here, he added.
“Pakistan is united and all Pakistanis are standing by their armed forces and Kashmiris. Our preference is still peace and we offer India to review its designs. A new Pakistan has been established,” Qureshi added.
A day earlier, the army spokesperson had said that the prime minister had asked everyone to be ready for “every eventuality”.
“We are all ready. Now it is time for India to wait for our response,” he asserted.
“The response will come at a point and time of our choosing where our civil military leadership decides, and as a matter of fact, has decided,” he had said, reiterating the statement issued after the National Security Committee (NSC) meeting convened by Prime Minister Imran Khan.