File image of MiG 21.

MEA Confirms 1 Pilot Captive After Pak U-Turn on ‘2 Arrests’ Claim

Pakistan, on Wednesday, 27 February, went back on its claim of having two IAF pilots in custody, as its Armed Forces Major General Asif Ghafoor, tweeted clarifying that there is "only one pilot under Pakistan Army’s custody".

Screenshot of Major General Asif Ghafoor’s tweet.
Screenshot of Major General Asif Ghafoor’s tweet.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), also confirmed that one IAF pilot is in Pakistan’s custody and made clear that Pakistan should be well advised to ensure that no harm comes to the defence personnel in its custody. “India also expects his immediate and safe return,” the MEA said in a statement.

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Earlier, on Wednesday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), in a joint official briefing with the Indian Air Force, said that India has lost a MiG-21 fighter jet and one of its pilots is “missing in action”, in a successful bid to foil Pakistan’s attempt to target “India’s military installations” in the morning.

“Pakistan has claimed that he (the pilot) is in their custody. We are ascertaining the facts,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar added.

Pakistan Earlier Claimed Two Indian Pilots Recovered

Earlier, briefing the media about Pakistan’s strike, spokesperson of Pakistan Armed Forces Major General Asif Ghafoor had said, “Two Indian Air Force jets were shot down. Two pilots were recovered and provided all necessary medical treatment as a responsible State.”

Later, in an address, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan also reiterated his claims.

News agency PTI quoted a video issued by the Pakistan Army where an Indian pilot can be heard saying, “I am Wing Commander Abhinandan, I am an IAF officer. My service number is 27981.”

Meanwhile, news agency ANI also reported quoting sources that IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan, who took off in a MiG 21 Bison jet on Wednesday, is yet to return.

Speaking on Pakistan’s operation on Wednesday morning, the MEA statement said, “Against this Counter Terrorism Action, Pakistan has responded this morning by using its air force to target military installations on the Indian side.”

(With inputs from PTI)