Tensions arose between India and Pakistan in February 2019, especially after Pakistani Air Force shot down Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s fighter jet. Though Islamabad claimed that the release of Wing Commander Abhinandan was a gesture of goodwill, a senior Pakistani politician has now revealed that the Imran Khan government feared an Indian attack had the Indian pilot not been released.
Recalling the events of February 2019, Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) leader Ayaz Sadiq has reportedly said that Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had called out an important meeting where he said that if “Pakistan did not release Wing Commander Varthaman, India would attack Pakistan that night by 9 pm”.
According to a report by news agency ANI, Sadiq also noted that Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s “legs were shaking” when Qureshi pointed out that India would attack Pakistan.
“I remember Shah Mahmood Qureshi was in the meeting in which Imran Khan had refused to attend and Chief of Army Staff General Bajwa came into the room, his legs were shaking and he was perspiring. Foreign Minister said for god’s sake let Abhinandan go, India’s about to attack Pakistan at 9 pm,” Sadiq was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Wing Commander Varthaman’s fight jet was shot down by Pakistan in February 27 dogfight. However, Varthaman had shot down a Pakistani F-16 with his MiG-21 Bison during the dogfight. This happened day after the Indian Air Force attacked the Balakot terror camp in Pakistan, in reply of a suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir that killed 40 soldiers.
Meanwhile, Wing Commander Varthaman returned to India via Attari-Wagah border on March 1, 2019. He was awarded the Vir Chakra on Independence Day by President Ram Nath Kovind for his exemplary bravery.