South Asia

Pak Opposition MP Says Abhinandan Was Released As Army Chief Feared India's Attack

Sardar Ayaz Sadiq said the Pakistan Army chief's "legs were shaking" when foreign minister S.M. Qureshi said India would attack if the IAF Wing Commander wasn't released.

New Delhi: It was a day when remarks made by Pakistani leaders on the 2019 Pulwama attack and its aftermath – both in opposition and in government – came to dominate headlines, as they tried to score political points.

First, a top opposition leader stated that Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa was perspiring and his “legs were shaking” as foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said during a meeting that if Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was not released, India would attack Pakistan.

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated in the aftermath of the Pulwama terrorist attack which killed 40 CRPF troopers. While India conducted an air raid on terrorist camps in Balakot on Pakistan’s side on February 26, the Pakistan Air Force made incursions into Indian airspace on the next day. In a dogfight that ensued, Wing Commander Varthaman was into custody after his MiG-21 Bison jet was shot down. The IAF officer also took down a PAF F-16 jet.

Recalling the tension in Islamabad after India bombed a terror training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot on February 26, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Sardar Ayaz Sadiq criticised the Imran Khan government over its response, saying that the opposition has supported the government on every issue, including Kashmir and Varthaman, but it will no longer be appropriate to provide any further support, Dunya News reported on Wednesday.

Sadiq, who was the speaker of the National Assembly during the PML-N government, made the statement earlier on Wednesday in parliament that foreign minister Qureshi had said in an important meeting that if Varthaman was not released, India would attack Pakistan at 9 pm that night and for “God’s sake we should let him go”.

He was released on the night of March 1.

Sadiq further claimed that the foreign minister had said this in a meeting between parliamentary leaders, including those of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and PML-N, and Army chief General Bajwa whose “legs were shaking and he was perspiring”.

The leader did not mention the date of the meeting nor if he was also part of it.

The developments came after minister for communication Murad Saeed moved a government-sponsored resolution condemning the speeches of the leaders of the Pakistan Democratic Movement, a grouping of opposition parties. Saeed promoted these speeches promote the “narrative of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his security adviser Ajit Doval” at a public meeting, according to Pakistani newspaper The News. “You will continue to promote India’s narrative if you do not get NRO and I make it clear that these corrupt people will not get NRO,” Saeed said, according to the report. The NRO is a controversial ordinance that was issued by former president Pervez Musharraf granting amnesty to politicians and bureaucrats who were accused of corruption.

After his statements went viral on social media, Sadiq claimed that his words were being “misquoted and misreported”.

The Director General of Inter-Service Public Relations, Major General Babar Iftikhar even held a press conference on Thursday to “correct the record” regarding the Balakot airstrikes, Dawn reported.

“A statement was given yesterday which tried to distort the history of issues associated with national security,” he said, not taking any names.

Stating that it was “extremely disappointing and misleading” to link the Indian air force officer’s release as government weakness, he added, “This is in fact equivalent to making controversial the Pakistani nation’s clear supremacy and victory over India, and I think this is not acceptable to any Pakistani.”

He also stated that it gave handle to the Indian media to “take advantage” in the information domain.

“This same narrative is being used to minimise India’s defeat and loss,” stated. “In these conditions, when enemy forces have imposed a hybrid war on Pakistan, we will all have to move forward with great responsibility.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s science and technology minister Fawad Chaudhry made a seeming faux pas when his words were interpreted as a claim for Pulwama terror attack.

Humne Hindustan ko ghus ke maara (We hit India in their home). Our success in Pulwama, is a success of the people under the leadership of Imran Khan. You and we are all part of that success,” minister Fawad Chaudhury said in the national assembly, NDTV reported.

When there was an uproar in the assembly, he rephrased, “Pulwama ke waqiyeh ke baad, jab humne India ko ghus ke maara (When we hit India in their home after the incident at Pulwama)”.

He further clarified in a tweet that he was only referring to Pakistan’s counter air strike in Indian territory.

This report updated with related comments of Pakistan DG ISPR and the minister for science and technology.