Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has slammed India's governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for purportedly trying to use false claims of Pakistan using an F-16 in an aerial incident between the two states at the end of February to promote "war hysteria". He further criticised the Indian government for allegedly trying to lie about downing a Pakistani F-16, something that a recent inspection by Pentagon officials ruled out.
"BJP's attempt to win elections through whipping up war hysteria and false claims of downing a Pak F 16 has backfired with US Defence officials also confirming that no F16 was missing from Pakistan's fleet", he said.
Commenting on the US inspectors' report, which said that none of the F-16s in Pakistan's possession were missing, Khan noted that "the truth always prevails and is always the best policy".
The incident involving the Indian (IAF) and Pakistan (PAF) Air Forces took place on 27 February, but some of the details remain unclear, as the two sides have brought up conflicting info on the matter. Pakistan said that it had downed two IAF MiG-21 planes in response to an earlier Indian air raid on its territory and arrested their pilots. One of them was released as a "peace gesture" several days later.
India said that it had conducted an airstrike on Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist group's camp, killing multiple militants. According to the Indian government, the country lost only one plane and that its forces had managed to down a PAF F-16 — an aircraft that had been provided to Islamabad by the US. The American jets were supposed to be used in the fight against terrorism and so Delhi urged Washington to respond to the "wrong" use of the combat aircraft.
The incident has led to an escalation of tensions between the two countries that have resulted in multiple cross-border exchanges of fire and several instances of Pakistani drones allegedly violating Indian airspace, subsequently being downed by Indian forces.