Pakistan is observing the fourth anniversary of Operation Swift Retort—popularly known as Surprise Day— when the country’s armed forces gave a befitting response to Indian pilots.

On February 27 in 2019, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) shot down two Indian planes that had violated Pakistani airspace. One of the Indian pilots—Abhinandan Varthaman—was captured alive by Pakistan, but was later handed over to the rival country as a gesture of peace and goodwill.

In a tweet, Prime Minister (PM) Shehbaz Sharif paid tribute to the Pakistan Air Force on Monday for its “befitting response” to the Indian violation of Pakistan’s airspace “on the pretext of false flag Pulwama attack”.


“While we aim for peace with all, we are mindful of our duty to defend the country. Let no one make any mistake about it,” he warned.

At the time, Abhinandan’s praise for the tea he was served grabbed the attention of the world, and Twitterati didn’t hold back on the jokes. This year too, social media users remembered the fateful day in a fun way.

The incident happened after 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed by a young Kashmiri boy. Later, India blamed Pakistan for the attack and Indian Air Force (IAF) launched an aerial strike near Balakot on February 26, 2019.

Pakistan Air Force (PAF) jets crossed the line of control in a tit-for-tat move into Indian territory.

The PAF shot down two IAF aircraft and captured one of the pilots. The debris of the SU-30 fell in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and its pilot was killed, while the MiG-21 pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan, whose aircraft fell on the Pakistan side was captured alive.