New Delhi/Wagah, Mar 2: Playing its usual game - something perhaps Pakistan is good at - the authorities in Islamabad and Lahore delayed the 'release' of Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman by hours.
On Thursday after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan made the announcement of release of captured pilot and thereafter - a general refrain was that at best Wg Cdr Abhinandan would be released by Friday afternoon. But ultimately, it only after 9.15 pm that the valiant Air Force pilot was in the Indian side.
According to analysts, the final handing over of pilot Abhinandan to India at Wagah border check post was delayed as he was 'made to undergo' a video recording wherein is made to say among other things - the Pakistani Army is "very professional and I am impressed by it".
In the purported video - he further says, according to sources, “I was in search of the target when your Pakistan Air Force shot me down".
The statement - virtually made to say under duress one way or the other - is seen as an attempt by Pakistani forces and authorities to establish their claims that F-16 fighter jet was not shot down by MiG 21 Bison.
Among other things he says - “People chased me, their emotions were running high.....Pakistan army took to hospital".
Apparently, the pilot was at Wagah border Pakistani check post by 4pm only and the delay for over five years could be due to this video recording exercise. However, talking to reporters, senior Air Force declined to take questions on the delay and merely said the force was happy that their brave boy has returned home.
"He has been handed over to us.....as per standard operating procedure of the Air Force he will now be taken for a detailed medical check up. This check up is mandated particularly because the officer had had to eject from an airplane which would put his body under great stress," Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor told media persons immediately after pilot Abhinandan crossed over to India after completing the long and tedious formalities.
Air Force officials on Thursday said that there were evidence to believe that F-16 was brought down. UNI