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DG ISPR press conference: Linking Abhinandan’s release to anything other than a mature response ‘misleading’

DG ISPR speaks during a press conference on Abhinandan Varthaman’s release. Photo: Geo News screengrab

RAWALPINDI: DG ISPR Major General Babar Iftikhar said Thursday that Indian Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was released according to the provisions of the Geneva Convention, linking it to anything else is “misleading”.

The DG ISPR was addressing a news conference where he said that raising questions about Abhinandan’s release was making Pakistan’s clear victory over India controversial.

“This, in my opinion, is not acceptable to any Pakistani,” he said. “Such a negative narrative will have direct consequences on Pakistan’s national security and the enemy is taking full advantage of this in the information domain.”

The DG ISPR said that at a time when Pakistan was facing a hybrid war at the hands of its enemies, it was important for anyone to act responsibly. He said that Pakistan was abreast with the security situation of the region and knew about the internal and external threats facing the country.

“Pakistan first demonstrated its capability and resolve after weighing all options, from a position of strength. Pakistan’s leadership and its armed forces were ready to deal with any sort of situation,” he said, referring to the tense situation that evolved after Pakistan downed two Indian aircraft.

The DG ISPR spoke about how Pakistan’s “alert and effective” response defeated India’s objective. He said that Pakistan’s civil and military leaderships were on the same page in responding to Indian hostility.

“We gave them a bloody nose and it is still hurting,” he said of the skirmish, adding that India had been embarrassed in front of the whole world.

“Pakistan gave a befitting response to the enemy in broad daylight,” he said. “We downed two fighter jets of the enemy and captured Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman,” he said, recalling Pakistan’s first dogfight with India after the 1971 war.

The military’s media spokesperson said that Pakistan’s victory over India was recognised by the global community, adding that the world had appreciated Pakistan’s decision to free Abhinandan.

Releasing Abhinandan was a ‘mature decision’

Senior analyst Mazhar Abbas — speaking to Geo News —  said credit should be given to Prime Minister Imran Khan for taking the mature decision of releasing Abhinandan.

“He gave proof of political maturity and a tense situation was avoided,” he said. “Some political reservations should remain but there are some state decisions [which should not be made controversial].”

He said it was unfortunate that a mature decision by PM Imran to release the Indian pilot was being dragged into politics. Abbas said that Ayaz Sadiq’s statement on Abhinandan was “irresponsible and out-of-context”.

Speaking on the need to appreciate wise and mature decisions, Abbas pointed out that if one were to criticise Nawaz’s decision to invite Vajpayee to Lahore in 1999, that would be unfair.

Abbas further said that when it comes to the Abhinandan issue, the government and Opposition both use it to score political points. “I think when it comes to such issues of national interest, we should be very cautious,” he said. “PML-N is Pakistan’s largest political party, people expect them to demonstrate political maturity.”

‘Ayaz Sadiq has no control over his words’

Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry spoke to Geo News, saying that the former National Assembly speaker had no control over his words.

He said that these statements are issued when the leadership reiterates an anti-state stance again and again. “There are no two opinions that whatever happened after the Pulwama incident, Pakistan trounced India,” he said. “We are proud of our army and our air force, in particular for the way they responded to India inside their territory,” he added. 

Hitting out at the Opposition, Fawad said that countries are run on diplomacy and not on statements. The minister described the decision to release Abhinandan as a diplomatic victory, saying that the DG ISPR’s press conference had cleared up confusion if any existed at all.

Ayaz Sadiq questions PM Imran Khan’s motives behind delaying meeting on Abhinandan

The DG ISPR’s press conference comes a few hours after PML-N leader Sardar Ayaz Sadiq questioned Prime Minister Imran Khan’s motives behind delaying a meeting related to Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman the day of his capture.

He noted that PM Imran Khan had convened a meeting of parliamentary leaders pertaining to the Indian pilot but it saw a considerable delay in starting. “The prime minister, through Foreign Minister [Shah Mahmood Qureshi], had said that Abhinandan should be handed over to India immediately.

Ayaz Sadiq had lambasted the Indian media for “distorting” his comments from the National Assembly session a day earlier, when he had alleged that the government took the decision to release the IAF pilot under pressure.

“One thing is clear: Abhinandan did not come to Pakistan to distribute sweets; he had attacked Pakistan,” the PML-N leader had said.

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