A video released by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Wednesday evening showed the captive Indian Air Force officer, Wing Commander Abhinandan, conversing with military officials in a congenial environment and acknowledging that he has been treated well.
Wing Cdr Abhinandan’s MiG 21 Bison aircraft was shot down over Pakistani territory earlier in the day along with another Indian jet after they violated the Line of Control. While the other plane crashed in Indian territory, Abhinandan was not so lucky.
He was captured by locals in Azad Kashmir before being taken into custody by Pakistan Army personnel. Videos of his capture showed army soldiers and officers intervening forcefully to save him from a crowd of angry citizens.
A wide cross-section of the Pakistani citizenry had subsequently called for him to be treated with respect and dignity.
“I’d like to put this on record; I will not change my statement even when I go back to my country. The officers of the Pakistan Army have looked after me very well,” Abhinandan acknowledged in the video.
“Starting from the captain who rescued me from the mob, from the soldiers, and thereafter the officers of the unit where I was taken to. I would expect my army to behave in the same way. And I’m very impressed with the Pakistan Army.”
During the conversation, the official making the video could be heard asking, “Where in India are you from?”
The pilot responded: “Am I supposed to tell you that?” before diplomatically offering that: “I’m from down south.”
Upon being asked if he is married, he replied in the affirmative.
“I hope you like the tea?” the officer asked him, to which Abhinandan replied that: “The tea is fantastic, thank you.”
The official then asked: “What aircraft were you flying?”, to which the pilot responded that: “I’m sorry Major, I’m not supposed to tell you this. But I’m sure you’ve found the wreckage.”
The official then asked him, “What was your mission?”
Nandan again declined to answer, saying: “Sorry, we’re not supposed to tell you this.”
According to India Times, the Wing Commander was a member of the SKAT — Surya Kiran Acrobatic Team, “which means he’s a skilled pilot”.
His father is an ex-Indian Air Force officer.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs has asked for “his immediate and safe return”.
Following PAF’s successful strikes earlier in the day and the downing of the two Indian planes, Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the nation and decision makers in neighbouring India to reiterate his message of peace and offer for dialogue.
“I ask India: with the weapons you have and the weapons we have, can we really afford such a miscalculation? If this escalates, things will no longer be in my control or in Modi’s,” the prime minister said.
“I once again invite you: we are ready. We understand the grief India has suffered in Pulwama and are ready for any sort of dialogue on terrorism. I reiterate that better sense should prevail. Let’s sit together and settle this with talks,” the prime minister concluded.