Pakistan PM accuses India of war hysteria over downed F-16 claim

Pakistani PM Imran Khan blamed India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for “whipping up war hysteria” over claims that India shot down a Pakistani F-16 during a standoff in February. (File/AFP)
Updated 06 April 2019

Pakistan PM accuses India of war hysteria over downed F-16 claim

  • Nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan engaged in an aerial battle over the disputed region of Kashmir a day after Indian jets crossed over into Pakistan to attack a suspected camp of anti-India militants
  • An Indian jet was brought down during the fight and its pilot captured when he ejected on the Pakistani side of the border

KARACHI: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan blamed India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for “whipping up war hysteria” over claims that India shot down a Pakistani F-16 during a standoff in February, saying the truth is always the best policy.
US-based Foreign Policy magazine, citing US officials, said all of Pakistan’s F-16 combat jets had been accounted for, contradicting an Indian air force assessment that it had shot down one of the jets.
“The truth always prevails and is always the best policy,” Khan said in a Tweet. “BJP’s attempt to win elections through whipping up war hysteria and false claims of downing a Pak F 16 has backfired with US Defense officials also confirming that no F16 was missing from Pakistan’s fleet.”

Nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan engaged in an aerial battle over the disputed region of Kashmir a day after Indian jets crossed over into Pakistan to attack a suspected camp of anti-India militants.
An Indian jet was brought down during the fight and its pilot captured when he ejected on the Pakistani side of the border. He was later released.
India said it too had shot down a Pakistani aircraft and the air force displayed pieces of a missile that it said had been fired by a Pakistani F-16 before it went down.
Foreign Policy said in a report published on Thursday two US defense officials with direct knowledge of the matter said US personnel had done a count of Pakistan’s F-16s and found none missing.
Details of the India-Pakistan air engagement have not been fully provided by either side. If the US report turns out to be true, it would be a further blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had said that India had taught Pakistan a lesson, ahead of elections next week.
The BJP is campaigning on a platform of tough national security, especially with regard to arch foe Pakistan. New Delhi blames Pakistan for stoking a 30-year revolt in Muslim-majority Kashmir but Islamabad denies any involvement.
The success of Indian air strikes on a camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group in northwestern Pakistan has also been thrown into doubt after satellite images showed little sign of damage.
High-resolution satellite images reviewed by Reuters last month showed that a religious school run by Jaish appeared to be still standing days after India said its warplanes had hit the militant group’s training camp on the site and killed a large number of militants.
Pakistan closed its airspace amid the standoff but most commercial air traffic has since resumed and major airports have opened.
Pakistan offered to open one air route on Friday, an Indian government official said, without specifying details and declining to be named as the matter was not public.
An Air India official said on condition of anonymity that Pakistan has opened one of its 11 air routes, from the southern side, adding that the carrier began operations via this route on Friday.
“Pakistan has opened one air route over India on April 4th, it is a north-west bound route,” Mujtaba Baig, spokesman for Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority, told Reuters on Saturday.
An email sent to the Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation was not immediately answered. Air India did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.


Hong Kong leader: National security law has been ‘effective’

Updated 14 min 26 sec ago

Hong Kong leader: National security law has been ‘effective’

  • Beijing imposed the national security law on Hong Kong in June
  • ‘One of our urgent priorities is to restore Hong Kong’s constitutional order and political system from chaos’

HONG KONG: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said Wednesday that the city’s new national security law has been “remarkably effective in restoring stability” after months of political unrest, and that bringing normalcy back to the political system is an urgent priority.
Lam made the comments in her annual policy address, more than a month after it was postponed so that she could seek Beijing’s support for various economic measures aimed at reviving the semi-autonomous Chinese territory’s economy.
Beijing imposed the national security law on Hong Kong in June, aiming to crack down on dissent following months of anti-government protests in the city that at times descended into violence. Last year’s protests were triggered by a proposed extradition law that would have allowed suspects in Hong Kong to be sent to the mainland. The proposal was eventually scrapped.
“Advocacies of Hong Kong independence and collusions with external forces have progressively subsided, some of the prominent figures have kept a low profile, radical organizations have ceased operations or dissolved,” Lam said in her address.
“After a year of social unrest with fear for personal safety, Hong Kong people can once again enjoy their basic rights and freedoms, according to the law,” she said.
Lam also criticized foreign governments for interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs, saying it had jeopardized national security.
Beijing has in recent months taken a tougher stance on dissent in Hong Kong, sparking concerns over the possible end of the “one country, two systems” framework under which Hong Kong has been operating since it was handed over to China by Britain in 1997.
Earlier this month, China passed a resolution disqualifying four pro-democracy Hong Kong lawmakers after they were accused of violating their oaths of office. The move prompted all of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy legislators to resign en masse as a show of solidarity.
Lam said that Hong Kong has experienced one of its most severe political challenges over the past year.
“One of our urgent priorities is to restore Hong Kong’s constitutional order and political system from chaos,” she said.
She said the government would introduce a bill by the end of this year to amend local laws related to oath-taking, to “deal with those who have engaged in conduct that breaches the oath of the swearing-in.”