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Pakistan has enough enemies in US who would have leaked F-16 loss

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KARACHI: US defence officials have rejected India’s claims of shooting down a Pakistani F-16 in an aerial battle on Feb 27, reported Foreign Police magazine on Thursday.

The report comes as blow to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who seeks a second term in office in upcoming general election.

Lara Seligman, Foreign Policy correspondent for Pentagon, wrote in her report that A US count of Pakistan’s F-16 fleet has found that all the jets are present and accounted for-a direct contradiction to New Delhi’s claim that it shot down one of the aircraft in February.

The report suggests that Indian authorities may have misled the international community about what happened on Feb 27, the day when Pakistan arrested Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman after shooting down his plane over Kashmir.

Pakistan had released the pilot as a good will gesture in an effort to de-escalate the situation.

“It is possible that in the heat of combat, Varthaman, flying a vintage MiG-21 Bison, got a lock on the Pakistani F-16, fired, and genuinely believed he scored a hit.  However, the assessment of the Feb 27 events by the concerned US officials, confirmed that no Pakistani aircraft was hit.

A Pentagon official also rejected that Islamabad violated end-user agreement by using F-16 in the conflict with India “It would be incredibly naive for us to believe that we could sell some type of equipment to Pakistan that they would not intend to use in a fight,” an unnamed official was quoted as saying by Foreign Policy.

Commenting on the report, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University at Albany Chirstopher Clay dismissed the Indian claims that US knows it lost an F-16 but can’t admit it for commercial reasons/pride reasons.

“Let me just say that Pakistan has many enemies in the US bureaucracy and even more on the (Capitol) Hill, and I think if Pakistan lost an F-16 they would gleefully leak it,” he said.   

Michael Kugelman, Deputy Director Asia Program and an expert on India-Pakistan affairs, said “There is now compelling evidence that badly undercuts two prime Indian assertions from its standoff with Pakistan: India hit terrorist targets in Balakot and  it shot down a Pakistani jet. There could be some deleterious political implications there, just days before the election”.

Pakistan Army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor thanked God saying truth always prevails and urged Indian to speak truth about false claims and actual  loses on their side including the second aircraft shot down by Pakistan.

“India needs introspection especially over atrocities in Occupied Kashmir,” he said on Twitter.