India ‘knows’ identity of downed Pakistani pilot, ‘sad’ that F-16 loss is denied – defense minister

India ‘knows’ identity of downed Pakistani pilot, ‘sad’ that F-16 loss is denied – defense minister
India’s defense minister has confirmed New Delhi knows of the Pakistani F-16 fighter jet pilot, which it says was downed by Indian MiG during the recent flare-up. She also regrets that Islamabad is “still in denial” of the loss.

Replying to a question by India Today channel’s reporters on Tuesday, who asked to confirm if she knew the identity of the Pakistani pilot, Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman simply replied: “Yes. We know.”

The official, however, did not provide any further details, referring only to earlier reports on social media and the evidence India has produced to prove an F-16 was used in a dogfight over Kashmir – something that would violate its agreement on the aircraft’s use with the US.

READ MORE: US looks into claims Pakistan misused F-16 fighter, as media war over Kashmir clash heats up

“It is sad that Pakistan is still in denial on shooting down of F-16 aircraft, but we have proof and we have shown some proof of missile, which are compatible only with F-16. I am not revealing the fact, but social media from Pakistan side has revealed the fact about death of their pilot in dogfight,” Sitharaman said.

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The extent of losses sustained by the two nuclear-armed powers during recent hostilities is still disputed. Pakistan has claimed that it downed two Indian fighters during the February 27 dogfight, while India claimed losing one while shooting down a Pakistani F-16 jet. So far, solid proof was provided only for downing of an Indian MiG-21 jet, the pilot of which was captured by Pakistani forces. The pilot was handed over to India shortly afterwards in a “goodwill” move by Islamabad.

Pakistani authorities have firmly rejected the assertions that an F-16 fighter was shot down during the altercation. Debris of an air-to-air missile, produced by India, remains the only proof of involvement of warplanes of that type in combat.

The recent hostilities have been sparked by the February suicide bombing in the disputed Kashmir region, which killed some 40 Indian paramilitary police troops. The terrorist attack was claimed by a Pakistan-based militant group and prompted India to carry out retaliatory cross-border strikes. The air raids prompted response from Islamabad, which, on its part, shelled and bombed targets in India.

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