'Pure Fantasy': Pakistan Rejects Indian Claims of Downing F-16 Aircraft During 2019 Aerial Dogfight
07:45 GMT 23.11.2021 (Updated: 19:09 GMT 03.11.2022)
© AP Photo / Shakil Adil Pakistani Air Force F-16 fighter jet (File)
© AP Photo / Shakil Adil
President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday presented the gallantry award to Indian Air Force officer Abhinandan Varthaman for 'shooting down a Pakistani F-16 jet' from his MiG-21 Bison during an aerial dogfight over the Jammu and Kashmir region in February 2019.
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry has rejected India's claims that it shot down a fourth-generation F-16 fighter jet as "pure fantasy," and the award presented the downed Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman as a "classic case of Indian fabrications" to appease the domestic audience.
"India's insistence on propagating a lie that has been thoroughly exposed is ludicrous and nonsensical," a statement issued by the Pakistan's ministry read on Tuesday.
The ministry stated that India made a mockery of itself by giving such an award to the pilot.
"It is obvious that India's farcical story has no credibility whatsoever before the international community," the ministry said, while adding that the US officials had also confirmed that no Pakistani F-16 was shot down on 27 February 2019, when a war-like situation erupted between the two countries.
Islamabad claims that two Indian aircraft — a Su-30MKI and a MiG-21 Bison — were shot down by the Pakistan Air Force during the air clashes.
1 March 2019, 12:05 GMT
The Indian Air Force claimed that Abhinandan Varthaman had successfully shot down a F-16 before his MiG-21 Bison crashed inside Pakistan-administered Kashmir during the dogfight.
India displayed pieces of an F-16 AMRAAM air-to-air missile before the media as proof to counter Pakistan's claim that the latter's Air Force did not use an F-16 to target Indian military installations.
The Pakistan military used over a dozen fighter jets to target Indian military installations, retaliating to a "cross-border airstrike" by the Indian Air Force on alleged terror camps inside Pakistan's Balakot region on 26 February, 2019.
The Indian government had allowed its air force to conduct a "cross-border strike" in response to a terrorist attack on 14 February 2019 in Pulwama district of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, where 40 Indian soldiers were killed.