In a statement issued a day after Abhinandan Varthaman was given the Vir Chakra medal by Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, the Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) said this was a “classic case of Indian fabrications and pure fantasy to appease the domestic audience and hide embarrassment”.

“Pakistan categorically rejects the entirely baseless Indian claims that a Pakistani F-16 aircraft was shot down by an Indian pilot before he was captured by Pakistan in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) in February 2019,” said the FO in a statement.

“India’s insistence on propagating a lie that has been thoroughly exposed is ludicrous and nonsensical. Granting military honours for imaginary feats of gallantry is contrary to every norm of military conduct. By giving such [an] award, also as an afterthought, India has only made a mockery of itself,” the FO statement added.

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“Indian Air Force was completely outplayed on the day. It is obvious that India’s farcical story has no credibility whatsoever before the international community.”

“Pakistan stands as ready and resolute to thwart any hostile designs as it was in February 2019. India would do well to learn a lesson from its botched attempt to violate Pakistan’s sovereignty and refrain from any misadventure in [the] future,” the FO warned.

Abhinandan was arrested on Feb 27, 2019, after his aircraft was shot down by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) upon violating Pakistani airspace.

He was initially captured by locals in Azad Kashmir before being taken into custody by Pakistan Army personnel.