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Chaudhry clarifies to Indian media Ayaz Sadiq’s comments ‘had nothing to do with COAS’

Ayaz Sadiq “was talking about our foreign minister and he said that because he’s against us” in the Opposition, Fawad Chaudhry said. Screengrab via The News

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry has clarified that PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq’s controversial comment on Indian pilot Abhinandan had nothing to do with Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Speaking to an Indian channel, Chaudhry said a statement made last week in the Parliament by the former speaker of the National Assembly was meant for Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and had nothing to do with COAS Gen Bajwa.

“You asked me [for my comment] and listened to me so I thank you for that,” the minister told the Indian anchorperson.

However, the journalist accused Chaudhry of “going back on your words”.

“You’re saying you were talking about the events from October 14, that you never talked about October 26. What was one of your colleagues saying yesterday? He had claimed that ‘India would have attacked by 9pm’ and ‘our Army chief was sweating’.

“So who’s speaking the truth: him or you,” the Indian anchorperson asked, referring to Chaudhry and the Ayaz Sadiq statement.

To which, Chaudhry responded by saying: “See, politicians issue such statements to discredit each other and I’ll tell you once again that in the statement he [Ayaz Sadiq] gave, he never even mentioned the Army chief.”

Ayaz Sadiq, the minister added, “was talking about our foreign minister and he said that because he’s against us [in the Opposition]”.

“It’s obvious that just like politicians in India keep pulling each other’s legs, the same happens in Pakistan as well and it’s the same throughout the world.

“And again, he never took Army chief Gen Bajwa’s name,” Chaudhry clarified.

Controversy over Kulbhushan, Abhinandan

Ayaz Sadiq had become embroiled in a controversy after spoke about a meeting during which the release of Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was allegedly agreed upon, accusing the PTI-led government of taking the decision under pressure.

“FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi was present in the meeting, which Imran Khan had refused to attend,” the PML-N leader had said, adding that it was the foreign minister who had “begged the Opposition to release Abhinandan, otherwise, India would attack Pakistan at 9pm”.

“India never attacked Pakistan but the government nonetheless handed over Abhinandan to Indian authorities,” he had said.

Ayaz Sadiq also said it was the PTI government — and not the Opposition — that had passed an ordinance to “facilitate” Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav.

Capture of Indian pilot Abhinandan

Back in February 2019, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) had shot down IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan’s MiG-21 plane in an aerial dogfight over Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

The aerial battle had almost brought nuclear-armed India and Pakistan to the brink of a new war. After his capture, the Pakistani military had released a video clip showing him sipping a cup of tea and politely refusing to answer questions.

Abhinandan, however, was released after a 60-hour detention period as a “peace gesture” from Pakistan aimed at defusing tensions with India.

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