Military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor has rejected India’s claims that Pakistan used American-made F-16 jets to down Indian aircraft in an aerial dogfight on February 27.
While talking to Russian news agency Sputnik, Major General Ghafoor said that the PAC JF-17 Thunder combat aircraft developed jointly with China was used instead.
“The aircraft which engaged those targets and fought them were JF-17. As regards to how to use F-16s, 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,” Major General Ghafoor said.
He remarked that the Pakistan Army has records and video footage of the operation.
However, he added that the country would use whatever it deemed necessary if it came to “legitimate self-defence.” He said that Pakistan decided to respond to February 26 India’s incursion by dropping payloads but chose not to threaten civilian lives.
The ISPR chief asserted that the protection of the country was of the utmost importance but it would be “insane” to discuss the use of nuclear weapons. He also pointed out Pakistan’s will to takes steps towards non-proliferation of nuclear arms — but only if India does the same.
“Pakistan will undertake anything which is based on equality. You cannot tie the hands of Pakistan and keep India’s open. Anything that happens should happen for both countries,” he said.
Pakistan would welcome Russia’s role in mediating the recently inflamed 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,” said Major General Ghafoor.
Pakistan valued Russia’s role in the Afghan settlement process and recognized Moscow’s importance in regional processes, he added.
“We greatly value the relevance and importance of Russia in the region, especially what role Russia has lately played towards Afghan reconciliation … Russia looks towards the balance of power and multi-polarity 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 in bringing peace to South Asia and beyond. And we expect that Russia will do it, as the efforts being undertaken by Russia are generating good results,” he said.