No Dialogue Before Pakistan Releases Indian Pilot Abhinandan Varthaman
| Onkareshwar Pandey - 28 Feb 2019

No Dialogue Before Pakistan Releases Indian Pilot Abhinandan Varthaman


Indian Observer Post

New Delhi, February 28, 2019: India might consider Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s request for dialogue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, only if Pakistan releases the Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, pilot who has been captured by Pak forces unconditionally. There cannot be dialogue before this, indicated a top Defence Expert who spoke to Indian Observer Post on the condition of anonymity.

The Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman has been captured by Pak forces after his MiG-21 Bison was brought down Wednesday in PoK. 

Pakistan had released Group Captain Kambampati Nachiketa during the Kargil War.

The chiefs of the armed forces apprised Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the security situation after Pakistani aircraft violated Indian airspace and an Indian pilot was taken into custody by the Pakistani forces.\

In his second meeting with the chiefs of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force within 24 hours, PM Modi has asked them to be on highest alert and reply in a befitting manner in case of any further misadventure by enemy forces.

A video being shown by the Pakistani media, from which a screengrab has also been shared by the Director-General of Inter-Services Public Relations, shows Abhinandan sipping tea, commending the Pakistani military for its conduct, and politely declining to answer the questions asked of him.

India has demanded the safe return of the pilot and strongly objected to his "vulgar display" by Pakistan.

New Delhi summoned the Pakistan envoy and lodged a strong protest over what it called an "unprovoked act of aggression by Pakistan", saying its jets had targeted military installations in India a day after Indian fighter jets crossed the Line of Control and carried out a strike at a major terror camp.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with the military chiefs, the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, the Defence and Foreign Secretaries and intelligence officials. He called the military chiefs again to his home for discussions.

 "Let's sit together and settle this with talks," said Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad.

Earlier, in a sign of growing military escalation between India and Pakistan, which can lead to a war, a Pakistan aircraft was shot down by IAF jet today. However, India lost one MiG 21 aircraft. The incident followed India’s aerial strike against Jaish e Mohammad terror camps in Balakot inside Pakistan,

In a brief statement in Delhi, the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs confirmed that one MiG-21 pilot of the Indian Air Force was missing in counter-action where IAF successfully shot down Pakistan’s F-16 fighter jet.

MEA spokesperson Ravish Kumar also confirmed that India had lost one MiG 21 Bison aircraft and its pilot was missing in action.

 “We, unfortunately lost one MiG 21 in this engagement and a pilot is missing since,” said MEA

Ravish Kumar also said that the Indian government will ascertain the claims made by Pakistan of capturing an Indian pilot.

Due to our high state of awareness, Pakistan's attempts were foiled, MEA spokesperson said.

He added, “Pakistan responded to India's counter-terrorism action this morning by using its Air Force,”

Meanwhile, Pakistan has claimed to have entered the Indian airspace and dropped bombs. Senior government officials said there were no reports of any casualty. A parachute was reportedly seen when the Pakistani jet went down but the fate of the pilot is unknown.

Here is the full statement made by MEA spokesperson in Delhi on 27 February 2019

“India had informed about Counter-Terrorism (CT) action it took yesterday against a training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) in Pakistan based on credible evidence that JeM intended to launch more attacks.

Against this Counter Terrorism Action, Pakistan has responded this morning by using its Air Force to target military installations on the Indian side. Due to our high state of readiness and alertness, Pakistan’s attempts were foiled successfully.”

“The Pakistan Air Force was detected and the Indian Air Force responded instantly. In that aerial engagement, one Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft was shot down by a MiG 21 Bison of the Indian Air Force.

The Pakistani aircraft was seen by ground forces falling from the sky on the Pakistan side. In this engagement, we have unfortunately lost one MiG 21. The pilot is missing in action. Pakistan has claimed that he is in their custody. We are ascertaining the facts.”

Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor was also present at the briefing. Pakistan has not formally informed India about the detention of the pilot which it claimed to have in its custody. It was not clear if India would take up the case of the missing IAF pilot through diplomatic channels and or the United Nations (UN).

On otherside, Pakistan military had claimed to have captured two Indian pilots after shooting down an IAF jet. Head of the media wing of Pakistan’s military Major General Asif Ghafoor said one of the pilots was hospitalised and was being treated for injuries.

The development came just after India shot down a Pakistani F-16 jet that violated the Indian air space in retaliatory fire 3 km within Pakistan territory in Lam valley, in the Nowshera sector.

In another incident, an Indian Air Force (IAF) 'jet' crashed in central Kashmir's Budgam on Wednesday morning.

Three persons including two pilots and one civilian killed were killed in the crash, an official in Budgam said.  The deceased civilian was identified as Kifayat Ganai, 30, a local. The IAF officials in Srinagar have not confirmed whether it was a M17 helicopter or a fighter jet. "The IAF will investigate the crash site and provide more details," said Superintendent of Police Nagpure Amod Ashok.

According to the police, the crash occurred at Garend Kalan in an open field, just seven km away from the Budgam town, around 10:40 a.m.. Budgam is adjacent to Srinagar. "We heard two loud sounds," said locals.

Railways Issue Security Alert

In view of the escalating tension with Pakistan, Indian Railways has issued a security alert across its network.

According to a senior official of the Railway Protection Force, "We have issued an alert to all General Managers of zones in view of the prevailing security scenario.”

“All trains to the mainland and valley in Jammu and Kashmir have additional security personnel on board. We have also identified specific targets related to railways and have beefed up security there," RPF DG, Arun Kumar told News agencies in Delhi.

Meanwhile Flight operations to north Indian airports resume now, which was closed briefly today, however Pak airspace remains closed and all International Flights are being diverted.

Director General Civil Association confirmed it while saying, “Flight operations to north Indian airports resume 'as of now', Pak airspace remains closed and international flights being diverted.”

“All flights to and from Pakistan suspended with immediate effect due to the closure of Pakistani airspace,” said Bahrain's Gulf Air reports media. Photo courtesy – Hans India / PMO India Twitter

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