On row over using F-16 jets against India, Pakistan military now says it was ‘self defence’
After claiming for weeks that Islamabad had not used US-manufactured F-16 fighter jets in its attempted counter-strike against India, the Pakistan military appeared to change its stance on Monday and insisted that Islamabad had the right to use any fighter jet in its “legitimate self defence”.
Pakistan had so far claimed that its air force had only used the Chinese JF17 jets in its action against India, not the US-made F-16. It also claimed that its fighter jets shot down two IAF jets. India has contested Islamabad on both points.
Indian officials believe Islamabad had to tweak its stand in face of mounting evidence with New Delhi and Washington that had nailed Pakistan’s claims.
Hindustan Times had last week reported on the evidence that India had shared with the US including call signs associated with PAF F-16s and specific details of the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air To Air Missile (AMRAAM) used by the intruding fighting falcons.
In a statement on Monday evening, the Pakistan military attempted a partial course correction to the narrative that it had been articulating since the February 27 aerial dogfight.
In this, the military’s Inter Services Public Relations statement on Monday said the JF17 jets of the Pakistan Air Force had carried out the 27 February strikes on Indian targets from within Pakistan airspace.
“Later when 2 Indian jets crossed LOC they were shot down by PAF. Whether it was F16 or JF17 which shot down 2 Indian aircrafts is immaterial. Even if F-16 have been used as at that point in time complete PAF was airborne including F16s, the fact remains that Pakistan Airforce shot down two Indian jets in self defence,” the Pak military’s ISPR statement said.
Pakistan’s denial on use of the F-16 fighters is linked to the condition imposed by the United States that the fighter jets will not be used in aggression against any other country, but only in the war against terror.
“Pakistan retains the right to use anything and everything in its legitimate self defence,” the statement said.
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