Pakistan’s agreement with the United States does not prevent it from using F-16 fighter jets in a conflict with India, and Indian claims of shooting down a Pakistani aircraft in a recent dogfight between the two nations is untrue, according to an influential U.S.-based publication.
Foreign Policy magazine quoted two senior U.S. defense officials with direct knowledge of the situation as saying American personnel recently counted Islamabad’s F-16s and found none missing. It did not identify the officers. The personnel were invited by Pakistan to count its F-16 planes after the incident.
“The findings directly contradict the account of Indian Air Force officials, who said that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman managed to shoot down a Pakistani F-16 before his own [MiG21] plane was downed by a Pakistani missile,” said the report published Thursday.
The magazine noted “the count, conducted by U.S. authorities on the ground in Pakistan, sheds doubt on New Delhi’s version of events, suggesting that Indian authorities may have misled the international community about what happened that day.”
There was no Indian or U.S. official reaction to the report.
The Pakistan military has consistently maintained it did not lose any aircraft and instead asserts the dogfight destroyed two Indian fighter jets — claims New Delhi rejected.
A military spokesman Friday hailed the findings by Foreign Policy, saying the “truth always prevails.”
“Time for India to speak truth about false claims & actual losses on their side including the second aircraft shot down by Pakistan,” tweeted Major-General Asif Ghafoor.
The dogfight occurred a day after Indian jets crossed deep into Pakistan territory and allegedly destroyed the suspected training camp of an anti-India militant group. Pakistani officials rejected Indian claims of hitting any camp or killing a large number of militants before undertaking the retaliatory military action the following day.