Ayaz Sadiq, a Pakistani politician and a member of the country’s National Assembly, has revealed why Pakistan had released Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Abhinandan Varthaman abruptly after the aerial dogfight in February 2019.
Wing Commander Varthaman’s MiG-21 was shot down over Pakistan-occupied Kashmir during the aerial encounter between the IAF and the Pakistan Air Force a day after India conducted the Balakot Airstrike in Pakistani territory. The IAF pilot was captured by the Pakistan Army after he bailed out of his aircraft.
When Pakistan decided to release Wing Commander Varthaman just 48 hours after capturing him, Prime Minister Imran Khan had presented the move as one ‘aimed at bringing peace amid India’s aggressive moves’.
It had later emerged that India had threatened to strike multiple targets in Pakistan with missiles if it did not release the IAF pilot within hours.
According to Sadiq, a member of former PM Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League party and a former speaker of the National Assembly, Rawalpindi decided to release the pilot after India threatened to attack Pakistan.
“When Chief of Army Staff General Bajwa came to meet foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi for a meeting, his legs were shaking and there was sweat on his forehead. Qureshi told him to let Abhinandan go for god’s sake as India was about to attack Pakistan at 9 pm,” Sadiq said in the National Assembly. “Imran Khan had refused to attend the meeting,” he noted.