Wednesday Feb 27, 2019
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Air Force (PAF) shot down two Indian aircraft inside Pakistani airspace on Wednesday and arrested an Indian pilot on ground.
Pakistani military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor said Indian Air Force (IAF) crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and two of their aircraft were shot down by PAF inside Pakistani airspace.
"One of the aircraft fell inside AJK while other fell inside IoK," he added.
Addressing a press conference later during the day, Director General of the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor said, "Two Indian jets entered Pakistani airspace and the PAF faced them. The two planes were shot down — one fell in our space and the other on their side."
He said the arrested Indian pilot was in Pakistan Army custody.
The DG ISPR stressed, "Pakistan's armed forces have capability, will, resolve and nation’s support. But because we are a responsible state and want peace, we decided first of all that we won’t take any military targets."
"Secondly we decided that there be no loss of life or collateral damage in our engaging of targets," he added while delving into details regarding PAF shooting down the aircraft. "Our planes locked targets, then in open air we carried out strikes," he continued.
"We locked all targets with accuracy, and when we had option to fire, we acted responsibly from a safe distance. We have capability to do anything, but we don’t want escalation. We don’t want to go towards war," he asserted.
Refuting Indian media reports that a Pakistani F-16 jet was shot down, DG ISPR said, "Pakistan did not use F-16 in any activity today."
The Pakistan military spokesperson stressed, "The state, government, armed forces and people of Pakistan have always conveyed a message of peace to India. The road to peace goes through dialogue. Both countries have the capability and capacity but war is the failure of policy which India needs to understand. We do not want to escalate and follow a path which leads to peace. The people of both countries and region at large have a right to live and live in peace. War is not the solution to problems. India should think with a cool head on this offer from Pakistan. "
We don’t want to indicate any victory. There are no victors in war. I request media to report objectively, responsibly, to go towards peace. Our message is for peace, he further said. "Starting a war is easy, but where it ends, nobody knows," DG ISPR stated.
Calling on the international community to play its role, DG ISPR said, “Pakistan is sending message of peace and they should also come forward and see how the environment between India and Pakistan is a threat to peace and for development not only to the two countries but the region and beyond.”
Major General Ghafoor added, "Pakistan’s response is not a retaliation per se, but a demonstration of our capability, responsibility and will. It is now up to India whether they go towards peace, which is a requirement of the region. But if forced, we will respond."
In response to a question, Major General Ghafoor said, "Pakistan is not pushing for war. We engaged our targets in open air, we deliberately avoided escalation. We could easily have taken the original targets, but we did not do that."
Regarding the airspace being closed, the DG ISPR said, "It has been closed due to the environment."
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said a MiG 21 was shot down and its pilot is missing.
Addressing a press conference, a spokesperson for the Indian MEA said, "We unfortunately lost one MiG-21 in this engagement and an Indian pilot is missing in action. Pakistan claims the pilot is in their custody, however we are ascertaining the facts."
"In the aerial engagement, a Pakistan fighter aircraft was shot down by a MiG-21 Bison. The aircraft was seen by ground forces falling on the Pakistan side," he added.
Earlier, Indian media confirmed an Indian Air Force (IAF) wing commander is in Pakistan's custody.
India media reports stated IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan took off in a MiG 21 Bison jet and is yet to return. Wing Commander Abhinandan is the son of a retired Indian Air Marshal, the reports added.
A video of the captured Indian pilot was released. In the video, the captured pilot can be heard saying: “My name is Wing Commander Abhinandan. My service number is 27981. I am a flying pilot. My religion is Hindu.”
When asked to share more, the arrested pilot can be heard saying: “I’m sorry sir, that’s all I’m supposed to tell you.”
The Foreign Office in a statement stated, "Pakistan Air Force (PAF) conducted strikes across Line of Control (LoC) from within Pakistani airspace."
"This was not a retaliation to continued Indian belligerence. Pakistan has therefore, taken strikes at non-military target, avoiding human loss and collateral damage," the FO statement read.
"Sole purpose being to demonstrate our right, will and capability for self defence. We have no intention of escalation, but are fully prepared to do so if forced into that paradigm," it added. "That is why we undertook the action with clear warning and in broad daylight."
The FO further said, "For the last few years, India has been trying to establish what they call “a new normal” a thinly veiled term for doing 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 retaliatory act comes after Pakistan warned India of a "surprise" on Tuesday in the wake of Indian military aircraft's intrusion into Pakistani airspace.
Flight operations were suspended across major airports in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
According to manager Lahore Airport, flight operations have been suspended at the Multan, Faisalabad, Sialkot and New Islamabad International Airport.
All incoming and outgoing local and international flights have been suspended until further orders, he added.
Incoming flight from Guangzhou in China has also been sent back.
Further, sources said a passenger airplane was stopped from taking off from Bacha Khan International Airport in Peshawar on the orders of Civil Aviation Authority.
India has shut at least four airports after the incident, according to Reuters. Flight operations at Srinagar, Jammu, Pathankot and Leh airports have been suspended. Airports in Chandigarh and Amritsar have also been closed, Reuters added.
Major General Ghafoor on Tuesday warned India that it was time to "wait for our surprise". "I said three things: You will never be able to surprise us. We have not been surprised. We were ready, we responded, we denied. I said we will retain the escalation ladder. We have that initiative in our hand," he said.
"I said that we will surprise you. Wait for that surprise. I said that our response will be different. See it for yourself. The response will come, and response will come differently," the DG ISPR warned the Indian army.
Earlier today, six citizens were martyred as Indian forces once again violated the LoC by resorting to unprovoked mortar shelling. Sources in the area said six citizens were martyred in the unprovoked shelling in Kotli village in Nakyal sector of LoC. Three of a family were among those martyred in the Indian firing. A woman was martyred in Indian unprovoked firing in Khoi Rata sector of the LoC while a citizen was critically injured in the LoC violation in Abbaspur sector.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had chaired a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) a day earlier which rejected Indian claims of targeting an alleged terrorist camp near Balakot and said that Pakistan will decide the time and place of response to the aggression.
Indian military aircraft violated the LoC as they "intruded" from the Muzaffarabad sector and were forced to return owing to the timely response of the Pakistan Air Force, Major General Ghafoor said early Tuesday.
"Indian aircraft intrusion across LoC in Muzafarabad Sector within AJK was 3-4 miles. Under forced hasty withdrawal aircraft released payload which had free fall in open area. No infrastructure got hit, no casualties. Technical details and other important information to follow," Major General Ghafoor wrote on Twitter.
He also tweeted images of the "payload of hastily escaping Indian aircraft" which "fell in [the] open".
The incursion into the Pakistani air space follows a series of threats by Indian political and military leadership following the attack on an Indian Army convoy at Pulwama by a local youth, in reaction to the oppression unleashed by the occupational forces.