Military spokesperson Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor has rejected India’s claims that Pakistan used American-made F-16 jets to down Indian aircraft in an aerial dogfight on February 27.
While talking to Russian news agency Sputnik, Major General Ghafoor said that the JF-17 Thunder combat aircraft was used instead.
“The aircraft which engaged those targets and fought them were JF-17. As regard to how to use F-16, in what context [they] were used or not — because at that point of time our entire Air Force was airborne — now it remains between Pakistan and the US to see how the MoUs regarding the use of F-16 have been adhered to or otherwise,” he said in an interview.
He remarked that the Pakistan Army has records and video footage of the operation.
Asserting that Pakistan would use whatever it deemed necessary for “legitimate self-defense”, Major General Ghafoor said Pakistan decided to respond to India’s February 26 incursion but chose not to threaten civilian lives.
Sharing Pakistan’s account of the events that preceded the dogfight on February 28, he said Indian jets violated Pakistani airspace on February 26, dropping payloads without inflicting any casualties or damage to infrastructure.
“Next day, our air force, while staying within our own airspace, took four targets in India-occupied Kashmir … Being a responsible country, we could have caused damage even to the military installations or human life … But we had to show our will, capability and resolve.”
“So what we did — we first chose the targets, and when the targets were locked by the aircraft, we shifted the point of impact to a safety distance where there was no infrastructure or human life, meaning thereby that we wanted to tell Indians that we had the capability to hit that military target, but in the interest of peace in the region we are only showing you our capability,” Ghafoor said.
Pakistan willing to take steps towards nuclear non-proliferation if India does same: DG ISPR
In another impactful statement, director-general of Inter-Services Public Relations (DG ISPR) said that Pakistan is ready to take steps towards non-proliferation of nuclear arms, but only if India does the same.
“Pakistan is dismissing the possibility of using its nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future and sees them as more of a deterrence tool to prevent conventional warfare, said Ghafoor, noting that even though the protection of the country was of the utmost importance, it would be “insane” to discuss the use of nuclear weapons.
“Since we have gone overtly nuclear, as India also, in 1998, our stance is that this capability eliminates the possibility of conventional war between the two states. So that is to say, this is a weapon of deterrence and a political choice. No sane country having this capability would talk about using it,” he said.
“Pakistan will undertake anything which is based on equality. You cannot tie the hands of Pakistan and keep India open. Anything that happens should happen for both countries,” he stressed.
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated last month, after the Pakistani military shot down two Indian warplanes in the disputed region of Kashmir, responding to an earlier airstrike by Indian aircraft against what New Delhi said was a camp of Jaish-e-Mohammad group, considered terrorists by India and located on the Pakistani soil across the so-called Line of Control, separating India- and Pakistan- controlled areas of Kashmir.
The Indian airstrike came after a deadly attack by Jaish-e-Mohammad on the Indian paramilitary police force in Kashmir in mid-February. While India has accused Pakistan of supporting the militants and having a “direct hand” in the incident, Pakistan, in turn, has rejected the allegations.