Mujeeb ur Rehman Shami, prominent Pakistani journalist, has claimed that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Ayaz Sadiq’s comments about Abhinandan were due to the slip of the tongue. In Ajmal Jami’s show Nuqta e Nazar on Dunya TV, the veteran journalist maintained that the former speaker of National Assembly wanted to target Shah Mehmood Qureshi but “slip of the tongue” led to an unwanted situation. “There may some written clarification for the same and nothing more,” he insisted.
"ایازصادق کی زبان پھسل گئی تھی"، "میں چھوٹا ہونے کے ناتے شامی صاحب کو مشورہ دوں گا کہ انہوں نے جو کالک اپنے منہ پر ملی ہے اسکا دفاع نہ کریں"- ایازصادق کے دفاع پر @SHABAZGIL کا مجیب شامی کو جواب#AyazSadiq #PMLN #PTI #PPPhttps://t.co/fIEtMgiVVa— Siasat.pk (@siasatpk) October 30, 2020
Ajmal Jami attempted to correct Shami on several accounts. However, Shami maintained his position and blamed the ministers for leaking information of the secret meetings.
Notably, Sadiq alleged on the floor of the NA that Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had said that “if we do not release Abhinandan, India may attack Pakistan”.
“I remember Shah Mahmood Qureshi was in the meeting in which Imran Khan had refused to attend and Chief of Army Staff General Bajwa came into the room, his legs were shaking and he was. Foreign Minister said for God’s sake let Abhinandan go, India’s about to attack Pakistan at 9 pm,” Sadiq recounted the events of the meeting.
It is important to mention here that PML-N’s senior leader Malik Ahmed Khan announced not to endorse Sadiq’s comments in Arshad Sharif’s show on ARY News. Mohsin Shahnawaz, PML-N’s senior leader, also urged Sadiq to clarify his position. However, Rana Sanaullah, former law minister of Punjab and PML-N’s leader, endorsed the former NA speaker’s comments in Nadeem Malik’s show on Samaa TV.
On 26 Feb, 2019 Indian planes had crossed the Line of Control and struck deep inside the Pakistani territory at Balakot (near Abbottabad, in the Pakistani province of Khyher Pakthunkhwa) prompting a counter-strike from Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on Feb, 27. In the ensuing dogfight India lost two planes (a Mig-21 and an advanced Russian built SU-30) and subsequently Pakistan had closed its airspace to Indian planes for several weeks.
Indian Pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan, captured by the Pakistani forces, was released as a goodwill gesture by Pakistan.
However, in a bid to put pressure on the country’s establishment, the PML-N leader has apparently cooked up a story, said an official who spoke with GVS on the condition of anonymity.
FP dismisses Sadiq’s statement
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday dismissed PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq’s statement, regretting that “responsible people are making irresponsible statements.”
Qureshi said he had not expected the former National Assembly speaker (Sadiq) to say that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was let go by Pakistan under pressure, adding that the comments made by him were “contrary to the truth”.
He said the government had taken all parliamentary leaders into confidence regarding the intelligence reports it had received, but the captured Indian pilot was not mentioned in that meeting. “Highly irresponsible statements are being issued for political gains; responsible people are talking irresponsibly, which is surprising,” the foreign minister said.
Negative narrative directly affects national security, DG ISPR
The Pakistani military has dismissed Sadiq’s statement as nothing more than an “attempt to distort history”.
“A statement was given yesterday [Wednesday] which tried to distort the history of issues associated with national security,” Major General Babar Iftikhar, the director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said at an unscheduled televised presser convened “to set the records straight” vis-à-vis Feb 2019 military standoff with India.
The military spokesperson wouldn’t give details of the “political statement”. However, senior PML-N lawmaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq claimed on Wednesday that Abhinandan had been released because the PTI “government feared an attack from India”.
The military spokesperson said “it is extremely disappointing and misleading to link Wing Commander Abhinandan’s release with anything other than a mature response of a responsible state”. This, he added, was an attempt to create doubts about Pakistani nation’s clear victory over India in the Feb 29 air battle. “And this is not acceptable to any Pakistani.”
“Such negative narrative directly affects national security and the enemy is taking full advantage of such things in the information domain and you all can see glimpses of this in the Indian media,” he said while referring to the frenzied coverage of Sadiq’s statement in the Indian media.
“This same narrative is being used to downplay India’s defeat and loss,” he added. “In these circumstances when the enemy has imposed a hybrid war on Pakistan, all of us will have to move forward with great responsibility.”