ISLAMABAD: PML-N leader Sardar Ayaz Sadiq on Thursday lambasted the Indian media for “distorting” his comments from a day earlier when he had alleged that the Pakistani government took the decision to release Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman under pressure.
“The Indian media distorted my statement in the National Assembly yesterday,” Sadiq said. “One thing is clear: Abhinandan did not come to Pakistan to distribute sweets.
“He had attacked Pakistan,” the PML-N leader said, adding, however, that the decision made by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government to return the Indian pilot was “completely wrong”.
“The downing of Abhinandan’s plane was a victory for Pakistan,” he said.
Ayaz Sadiq also questioned PM Imran Khan’s motives behind delaying a meeting related to Abhinandan the day of his capture.
“The prime minister, through Foreign Minister [Shah Mahmood Qureshi], had said that Abhinandan should be handed over to India immediately. What was the reason for a delay in the meeting?” Sadiq asked.
“Was he taking dictation from Modi? Did he not consider it appropriate to share with us [the reason for a delay]?” Ayaz Sadiq inquired.
Abhinandan, following the meeting, was let go by Pakistan as a “peace gesture” towards its east-side neighbour.
Controversy over Kulbhushan, Abhinandan
Senior PML-N parliamentarians had on Wednesday accused the government of taking the decision to release the IAF pilot under pressure, saying Qureshi had “begged the Opposition to release Abhinandan; otherwise, India would attack Pakistan at 9pm”.
Qureshi “was present in the meeting, which Imran Khan had refused to attend”, the former NA speaker said. “India never attacked Pakistan but the government nonetheless handed over Abhinandan to the Indian authorities.”
Ayaz Sadiq also said it was the PTI government — and not the Opposition — that had passed an ordinance to “facilitate” Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav.
‘For political gains’
Hitting back at the PML-N leader, Qureshi regretted how “responsible people are making irresponsible statements”.
The foreign minister said he had not expected the former NA speaker to say Pakistan let go Abhinandan under pressure and that his comments were “contrary to the truth”.
He explained that in the meeting, the government had taken all parliamentary leaders into confidence regarding the intelligence reports it had received but made no mention of the captured Indian pilot. “Highly irresponsible statements are being issued for political gains,” he lamented.
Qureshi also slammed the Opposition for its stance on Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, saying: “These people are misleading the nation on the issues of Kulbhushan and Abhinandan.”