IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman comes back home! The entire country is filled with a sense of pride as IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman returns home. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday made the big announcement in Parliament in Islamabad terming this as a ‘peace gesture’. India had categorically ruled out any deal on the issue and had sought immediate release of Abhinandan. Some observers found Donald Trump’s remark on Thursday morning that US expected ‘decent news’ from New Delhi and Islamabad, a pivotal statement amid the growing escalation of crisis between India and Pakistan.
So how did India win this diplomatic game of chess? Let’s give a brief summary of the events that took place since Tuesday. In the wee hours of February 26, Indian Air Force’s Mirage 2000 fighter jets decimated Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. On February 27, Pakistan tried to enter into Indian airspace and attack India’s military installations. However, Indian Air Force’s MiG-21 forced Pakistan’s F-16 fighter jets to move back. However, in this process, IAF’s MiG-2 Bison crashed into across LoC and its pilot Abhinandan was captured by Pakistan forces. On February 28, after a day of anxiety and relentless diplomatic pressure from India, Pakistan decided to release Abhinandan. Today on March 1, Abhinandan has come back to India.
What happened behind the doors on a diplomatic level since the government stated that IAF pilot went missing, is a testimony of India’s rising stature in the world. According to an IE report, diplomats in Islamabad contacted the P-5 nations – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States – and alleged that India was moving Naval ships towards Karachi. Apart from this, New Delhi could also launch ballistic missiles along the border, Pakistan said.
After receiving the information from Islamabad, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States contacted New Delhi to seek details. However, India categorically rejected Pakistan’s claims as “fictitious and manufactured” and asked them to “detect” India’s movements, if there were any, the report added.
India clearly mentioned that Balakot air strikes were a “non-military counter-terror pre-emptive” operation. However, Pakistan sent 20 fighter jets to target Indian military posts across the Line of Control. India also mentioned that Pakistan directed laser-guided bombs and those weapons missed Indian military installations narrowly. According to the report, New Delhi termed this as an “act of aggression” but chose not to divulge on the option of counter-attack. With regards to the capturing of IAF pilot Abhinandan, New Delhi put the onus on Islamabad.
On Wednesday, the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval got a call from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the report said. During the conversation, Doval was told that the US supported India’s right to self-defence. While India ruled out any negotiation for the IAF pilot, it said it was Pakistan’s responsibility to follow guidelines under Geneva Conventions. However, India categorically stated if Abhinandan was harmed or not released, there would be severe consequences.
In the meantime, all the P-5 nations put pressure on Pakistan to act against terrorism. Pakistan requested UAE to snub India for the OIC conclave. However, UAE chose to turn down Pakistan’s requests. Amidst this, the US, European Union, Saudi Arabia, UAE and other P-5 nations put immense pressure on Islamabad and it left with no option but to release Abhinandan, the report said.