Pakistan shoots down two Indian MiG-21s

By Zeeshan Ghayur
Thursday – February 28, 2019
ISLAMABAD: “We took action today, our plan was to ensure zero casualty/collateral damage along-with demonstrating strike capability, if you can breach our airspace we can reciprocate and strike” announcing “Two Indian Mikoyan-Gurevich (MiG) 21 fighter jets in retaliation crossed over into Pakistani territory where they were shot down, the pilots are in our custody,” prime minister (PM) Imran Khan said on Wednesday.

According to reports, one Indian Air Force (IAF) MiG-21 plane crashed in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), of which the IAF pilot wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman is in Pakistani custody, while the other crashed in the Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK).

Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) director general (DG) Asif Ghafoor on Wednesday disclosed, “In the morning, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fighter jets remaining within our territory engaged 6 enemy targets in the IOK’s Bhimber Gali, Krishna Gati and Naryan areas, the targets were Indian administrative setup, military posts and supply depots.”

“After having locked the targets,” he continued and elaborated, “A feasible nearby open area was selected whereby there was no military post nor any human life and therefore keeping in view the safety distance, the precision strikes were made with pure accuracy ensuring zero casualties/collateral damage demonstrating our capability, resolve and will.”

Ghafoor metioned, “Once the strikes were made, two Indian MiG-21 aircrafts violated Pakistani airspace, PAF readily took on the Indian aircrafts, live engagement took place after which both the Indian aircrafts got shot down, of which the wreckage fell both in the AJK and IOK.”

He furthered, “Third Indian aircraft crashed within the IOK, but was further away from the line of fire” detailing “PAF aircrafts did not aim for this particular crashed Indian fighter jet.”

“Two Indian pilots who parachute landed in AJK were taken into custody, one of them was injured and was transported to the combined military hospital (CMH) while the other one is in our custody,” Ghafoor disclosed.

“Indian media is claiming that they too shot down a Pakistani F-16,” he said and rebuffed, “First of all let me make it clear here that in the entire operation today no F-16 was used and there is no report that any Pakistani plane crashed.”

Ghafoor confirmed that the airspace of both the nations, for commercial and private aircrafts, stands blocked and said that it is due to the tensed environment.

He stressed, “This wasn’t a retaliation in true sense as we merely wanted to demonstrate our capability and did not wish to do so at region’s cost.”

In a video recording, caught IAF pilot wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman appreciated, “The officers of Pakistan army have looked after me very well, they are thorough gentlemen, starting from the captain who rescued me from the mob and thereafter the soldiers of the unit I was taken to” adding “This is what I would expect my army to behave and I am very impressed by the Pakistani army.”

To a question, by unknown Pakistani major, as to where he is from in India, IAF wing commander responded, “I am from down south” and again to another question of marriage he confirmed, “Yes.”

Varthaman lauded that the tea he is sipping is fantastic, but to the question as to which aircraft he was flying, IAF wing commander answered, “I am sorry major I am not supposed to tell you this but I can show you from the wreckage” to another question as to what was his mission Varthaman responded, “I am sorry I am not supposed to tell you this.”

Meanwhile, Ghafoor on Tuesday informed, “In a tensed scenario two combat air patrolling (CAP) missions remain alert 24/7 whereby one is airborne while the other takes its place on rotation basis, the radars constantly monitor the activity of enemy aircrafts and notify the air commands whenever and wherever intrusion takes place.”

He continued, “These CAP missions in both India-Pakistan had been taking place, along-with the precautionary scrambling, ever since February 14th’s Pulwama incident in the IOK.”

“The Indian CAP missions had flown near the international border previously however were never too close in proximity to suggest any possible intrusion,” Ghafoor mentioned and disclosed, “On Tuesday night our CAP was in air, our radars caught Indian visibility as they were approaching Sialkot-Lahore border.”

He detailed, “The Indian aircrafts were challenged right away by our CAP that was patrolling somewhat in the middle of Pakistan” adding “They did not cross and remained 7 to 8 nautical miles within the Indian territory.”

“As per the standard operating procedure (SOP) once one CAP got committed at Sialkot-Lahore border, second CAP team got airborne,” Ghafoor continued and added, “While the previous CAP was facing threat in Sialkot-Lahore sector, another Indian formation appeared on our radars approaching Okara-Bahawalpur sector, the second CAP standby team went down south and challenged the approaching Indian fighter jets.”

“Our third CAP, next in-line, got airborne when our radars picked up a far heavier Indian formation approaching from Kiran Valley in Muzaffarabad sector,” he said and continued, “As the third CAP team challenged the Indian aircrafts near Muzaffarabad, the Indian aircrafts had crossed over the line of control (LOC) at least by four to five nautical miles.”

Ghafoor continued, “The entire duration of this was four minutes, includes the time the Indian aircrafts came in dangerously close proximity to the LOC, the crossing over of the LOC and the retreat as they faced constant denials of free-flying within the Pakistani territory.”

“As they were retreating, the trespassing Indian aircrafts in haste, disconnected their payload, as a result of which four Indian bombs fell within the AJK at an open space in Jabba near New Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP),” he said.

Ghafoor elaborated, “This could have been the time when both the air forces could have engaged each other in dogfights, had the IAF aircrafts engaged any military position.”

He educated, “Their aim was not to target any military position but was rather to deliberately target the civilian population, as they have time and again demonstrated by ceasefire violations along the LOC, to satisfy their war mongering election manifesto.”