A Pakistan MP while speaking in Parliament claimed the Imran Khan government abruptly released IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman over fears that India would attack the country.
Recounting the events, Pakistan Muslim League-N leader Ayas Sadiq told the National Assembly: “I remember (foreign minister) Shah Mahmood Qureshi was in the meeting in which Imran Khan had refused to attend and Chief of Army Staff General (Qamar Javed) Bajwa came into the room, his legs were shaking and he was perspiring. Foreign minister said for god’s sake let Abhinandan go, India’s about to attack Pakistan at 9 pm.”
Varthaman’s fighter jet was downed while pursuing a Pakistani fighter jet during a dogfight between Indian and Pakistani pilots.
Dunya News further quoted Sadiq as saying the opposition supported the government in all issues, including Abhinandan, but will not be able to further support it.
During a counter-attack in response to February 2019’s Balakot airstrike, Varthaman while flying a MiG 21 Bison was chasing Pakistani F-16 fighters that transgressed into Indian airspace and shot it down.
However, during the dogfight between Indian and Pakistani air force, his plane crossed over to Pakistani side and was also shot down.
He ejected safely but was taken into custody by the Pakistan Army. Varthaman was held captive for nearly 60 hours before being released to India from the Attari-Wagah border on March 1, 2019.
Prime Minister Imran Khan while releasing Varthaman had termed his decision “a peace gesture”.