Says Zardari, Shehbaz, Gen Bajwa, Qureshi attended the meeting
Ali Muhammad Khan, the minister for parliamentary affairs in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet, said that the idea to release and return Indian fighter Abhinandan Varthaman was floated in a meeting and no opposition leader had objected to it.
Abhinandan was arrested by Pakistani forces after his aircraft was shot down by Pakistan Air Force in an aerial dogfight in February 2019. He was released, however, by Pakistan as a gesture of peace.
Abhinandan’s name was heard again in the National Assembly when the opposition leaders said Wednesday that Pakistan didn’t get a positive response from India in exchange for the pilot’s release.
Khawaja Asif, a member of the opposition, said they were sure that they would get a good response from India in exchange for Abhinandan’s release. But, he added, India responded with revoking Kashmir’s special status.
Ayaz Sadiq, another member of the PML-N, claimed that the opposition parties were told that India would attack Pakistan if Abhinandan is not released by 9pm.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the foreign minister, told SAMAA TV that the decision to release Abhinandan aimed to de-escalate tensions between Pakistan and India.
Ali Muhammad Khan told Nadeem Malik in his programme that the idea to release Abhinandan was discussed in a meeting and Shehbaz Sharif and Asif Zardari were also there.
According to him, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa also discussed the idea in the meeting.
“An idea was floated that he be returned,” said Khan. “Zardari sahab was there, Shehbaz sahan was there but no opposition leader objected to it.”
“If you believe, returning Abhinandan was wrong then they should have said it in the meeting.”
Talal Chaudhry, a PML-N leader, told Malik that Prime Minister Imran Khan didn’t attend the meeting. According to him, the opposition leaders were told that Pakistan will benefit from releasing Abhinandan in the future but there are no benefits to be seen.
“Either, we were wrongly briefed or it’s our incompetence that we couldn’t get any benefit from it,” said the PML-N leader.