Day after Balakot strike: IAF pilot in Pak custody, India says stop ‘vulgar display’, send him back

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Updated: February 28, 2019 9:16 AM

As per the Geneva Convention of 1949 on the treatment of prisoners of war, Pakistan has to return the military personnel unharmed to India.

While Pakistan initially had said that two IAF pilots were in its custody, later in the day, Pakistan Army said it has arrested “only one” Indian pilot.

A day after India conducted air strikes deep inside Pakistan, Pakistan Air Force shot down a MIG fighter jet and an Indian Air Force pilot was caught by Pakistan’s Army complicating the escalation ladder between the two nuclear-armed countries.

New Delhi on Wednesday said that the Pakistan Air Force had targeted “Indian military installations”, and said that though the attack was foiled successfully, one MIG fighter jet was shot down in the aerial confrontation and a pilot is “missing in action”.

New Delhi also summoned Pakistan’s Acting High Commissioner Wednesday afternoon to lodge a “strong protest” at what it called “unprovoked act of aggression” by Pakistan including “violation of the Indian air space by Pakistan Air Force and targeting of Indian military posts”.

ALSO READ: India, Pakistan air strikes updates

While Pakistan initially had said that two IAF pilots were in its custody, later in the day, Pakistan Army said it has arrested “only one” Indian pilot.

The pilot, through videos released by Pakistan’s Army, was identified as Wing Commander Abhinandan.
“There is only one pilot under Pakistan Army’s custody. Wing Comd Abhi Nandan is being treated as per norms of military ethics,” Pakistan Army’s spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor said in a tweet.

Earlier, Ghafoor, in a press conference, had claimed that two IAF pilots were arrested. One pilot is injured and has been shifted to a hospital, while another one is unhurt, he had then said.
The ministry of external affairs, in its statement, “strongly objected to Pakistan’s vulgar display of an injured personnel of the Indian Air Force in violation of all norms of International Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Convention”.

ALSO READ: US, UK, France ask UN to blacklist Pakistan-based JeM terrorist Masood Azhar

As per the Geneva Convention of 1949 on the treatment of prisoners of war, Pakistan has to return the military personnel unharmed to India.

“It was made clear that Pakistan would be well advised to ensure that no harm comes to the Indian defence personnel in its custody. India also expects his immediate and safe return,” MEA said.
India’s strong demarche was in the context of Pakistan’s retaliatory response to New Delhi’s “non-military pre-emptive action”. India on Wednesday framed Tuesday’s action in Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as a “counter terrorism” action.

Accompanied by Air Vice Marshal RG K Kapoor, MEA’s official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that against India’s “counter-terrorism” action — the Balakot strikes Tuesday — “Pakistan responded this morning by using its Air Force to target military installations on the Indian side. Due to our high state of readiness and alertness, Pakistan’s attempts were foiled successfully.”

Kumar said that the PAF was detected and the Indian Air Force responded “instantly”. “In that aerial engagement, one Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft was shot down by a MiG 21 Bison of the Indian Air Force. The Pakistani aircraft was seen by ground forces falling from the sky on the Pakistan side. In this engagement, we have unfortunately lost one MiG 21. The pilot is missing in action. Pakistan has claimed that he is in their custody. We are ascertaining the facts,” he said.

Taking strong exception to the violation of Indian airspace and targeting of Indian military posts, the MEA, later in a statement, said that this is in contrast to India’s non-military anti-terror pre-emptive strike at the Jaish camp in Balakot.

“It is unfortunate that instead of fulfilling its international obligation and bilateral commitment to take credible action against terrorist entities and individuals operating from its soil, Pakistan has acted with aggression against India.”

Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner, the MEA said, was told that India reserves the right to take a firm and decisive action to protect its national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity against any act of aggression or cross-border terrorism.

The MEA also expressed regret at the continuing denial by Pakistan’s political and and military leadership at the presence of terrorist infrastructure in territories under its control. This was a clear reference to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Pakistan Army spokesperson’s comments in which they did not acknowledge the presence of terrorist camps in Pakistan.

“A dossier was handed over to Pakistan side with specific details of JeM complicity in Pulwama terror attack and the presence of JeM terror camps and its leadership in Pakistan. It was conveyed that India expects Pakistan to take immediate and verifiable action against terrorism emanating from territories under its control,” a spokesperson said.

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