Qureshi dismisses Ayaz Sadiq’s statement on Abhinandan

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq. Photo: File

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday dismissed PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq’s statement over the circumstances in which Indian pilot Abhinandan was released, saying that “responsible people are making irresponsible statements.”

Qureshi said he had not expected the former National Assembly speaker (Sadiq) to say that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was let go by Pakistan under pressure, adding that the comments made by him were “contrary to the truth”.

He said the government had taken all parliamentary leaders into confidence regarding the intelligence reports it had received, but the captured Indian pilot was not mentioned in that meeting.

“Highly irresponsible statements are being issued for political gains; responsible people are talking irresponsibly, which is surprising,” the foreign minister said.

Qureshi also slammed the Opposition for its stance on Indian spy Kulbhushan Yadav, advising them to read the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding the case as well as Pakistan’s stance on the matter.

The Opposition has attempted to create controversy over an ordinance passed by the government in order to comply with the ICJ’s ruling in the Kulbhushan case, describing it as a move to give the Indian spy amnesty.

The foreign minister said that Pakistan simply did not want to give India another opportunity to take the country to the ICJ.

“These people are misleading the nation on the issues of Kulbhushan and Abhinandan,” said the foreign minister.

He added that the release of the captured Indian pilot was being made controversial without any reason and simply for political purposes.

Controversy over Kulbhushan, Abhinandan

The foreign minister was reacting to statements made by senior PML-N parliamentarians on the floor of the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Two senior PML-N lawmakers had shared details of a meeting during which the release of Indian pilot Abhinandan had been agreed upon, alleging that the government took the decision under pressure.

“Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was present in the meeting, which Imran Khan had refused to attend,” former speaker Ayaz Sadiq said. He said it was Shah Mehmood Qureshi who had “begged the opposition to release Abhinandan, otherwise, India would attack Pakistan at 9:00pm”.

“India never attacked Pakistan, but the government nonetheless handed over Abhinandan to Indian authorities,” he said.

Ayaz Sadiq also said it was not the Opposition, but the PTI government which passed an ordinance to “facilitate” Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav.

Separately, PTI’s Ali Muhammad Khan pointed out that Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif, PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and JUI-F leaders had been present at the meeting and supported the release of the Indian pilot.

Admitting that the PML-N and PPP had also supported the release of Abhinandan, PML-N leader Khawaja Asif said that General Bajwa had given a briefing to the meeting and expressed the hope that India would take the release of Abhinandan as a positive gesture.

“You might have released Abhinandan to ease tensions between the two countries, but I want to ask as to what has been the outcome of what you invested into this step,” he said.

Khawaja Asif further alleged that the PTI government was following a policy of appeasing India. He said that history would not forgive the incumbent rulers for showing disloyalty to the people of Kashmir.

Capture of Indian pilot Abhinandan

In February 2019, Indian Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s MiG-21 plane was shot down by Pakistan Air Force in an aerial dogfight over Azad Jammu Kashmir.

The aerial battle had almost brought nuclear-armed India and Pakistan to the brink of a new war.

After his capture, the Pakistani military had released video showing him sipping a cup of tea and politely refusing to answer questions.

He was released after a 60-hour detention period as a peace gesture from Pakistan aimed at defusing tensions. 

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