New Delhi: The Pakistan Army released a short propaganda video Friday night, featuring Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, which was shot while he was in its custody. However, the video had at least 16 cuts.
Sources in the defence establishment rejected the one-minute 23-second-long video, saying it violated all international norms and decency.
“The officer’s return, promised by none other than Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, was delayed by several hours only because they wanted to force him into recording a video,” a source said.
Sources pointed out that the multiple cuts made it clear that the video was edited and spliced.
Crossed over at 9.22 pm
India has maintained that Abhinandan’s plane was downed when IAF fighters foiled an attempt by the Pakistan Air Force to target Indian military installations in Jammu and Kashmir on 27 February, a day after New Delhi had conducted counter-terror operations in Pakistan’s Balakot. Abhinandan bailed out of the aircraft but drifted to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, where he was detained by the Pakistan Army.
The IAF pilot, who crossed over into India at 9.22 pm, will be taken to Delhi immediately, where he will be debriefed. He was handed over to Group Captain J.D. Kurien, India’s Air Attache to Pakistan, who accompanied him till the Wagah-Attari gate.
Although there has been no official word about what time he was brought to the Wagah border Friday, sources said he had reached Lahore after 4 pm.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had said Thursday that Islamabad would be releasing the IAF pilot as a “gesture of peace” with India.
This came a day after India issued a strong demarche to the acting High Commissioner of Pakistan to India, telling him that there will be no “deal or negotiation” on handing over Abhinandan, and that he should be returned to India “unharmed”.