ISLAMABAD -UNS – Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (DG-ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor on Monday rejected India’s claims that Pakistan used US-made F-16 to down their aircraft in late February, stating that PAC JF-17 Thunder combat aircraft developed jointly with China were used instead.
In an interview to Russian media, DG ISPR said, “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 told that Indian jets violated Pakistani airspace on February 26 and dropped payloads without causing any damage or casualties, Pakistan then decided to retaliate but chose not to threaten civilian lives.
“Next day, our Air Force, while staying within our own airspace, took four targets in the India-Occupied Kashmir (IHK)… 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 of the region we are only showing you our capability. Pakistan had the footage of the operation,” Ghafoor said.
He said that Pakistan was discussing the use of its JF-17 with the United States.
“Since we have gone overtly nuclear, as India also, in 1998, our stance is that this capability eliminates the possibility of a 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,” the DG said.
He stated, “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.”
“We are having the aviation, we are having the air defense, we are having the anti-tank domain, which we are negotiating. And that will be positive negotiations,” he added.
DG ISPR further welcomed Russia’s role in mediating the recently hostile tensions between Pakistan and India. “We would welcome any third-party mediation, which can bring peace in the region. And Russia is more than welcome,” he said.
“We greatly value the relevance and importance of Russia in the region, especially what role Russia has lately played toward the Afghan reconciliation… Russia looks toward balance of power and multipolarity in the world. We value Russia’s voice as the voice of reason, and we would love if Russia, being a powerful country, plays its role which enables bringing peace in South Asia and beyond. And we expect that Russia will do it, as the efforts in fact being undertaken by Russia are generating good results,” Ghafoor said.