Ghafoor's statements came hours after the publication of a report in US-based Foreign Policy magazine that quoted two unnamed U.S. defence officials as verifying that, following a count of Pakistan's F-16 fighter jet fleet, there were no aircraft missing. The two sightings were at places separated by at least 8-10 kilometers. Two senior US defense officials with direct knowledge of the situation told Foreign Policy that USA personnel recently counted Islamabad's F-16s and found none missing. They said the Pakistani aircraft was an F-16 and enemy radio transmissions which were monitored showed that it did not return to its base.
IAF claim of hitting F-16 by their Mig 21 before having been shot down by PAF gets exposed.
Following the conflict between the two countries in February, India had claimed that the PAF had used F-16s to target Indian military installations after crossing the Line of Control.
"Fact of the matter as far as we are concerned is that it was used and we understand as per the understanding of the use of F-16 between Pakistan and the United States, it should not have been done", he said. One was an IAF MiG-21 and the other was a PAF aircraft. The sources argue that this could only have been a Pakistani F-16, since the PAF's other fighters - JF-17 Thunder and Mirage III/V - were elsewhere in the battlespace.
In one of the intercepts of the Pakistan's 7 Northern Light Infantry unit, the Pakistani soldiers could be heard saying that, "ye enemy ka jo tabah hua hai parinda, woh dono parinde wale pakad liye hain (the enemy plane which has been destroyed, we have been able to catch both the pilots from it)".
That evening, at 6:19 pm, Ghafoor tweeted, presumably after being informed that the second pilot was Pakistani: "There is only one pilot under Pakistan Army's custody".
With this latest news of yet another Indian military success that was not, will Prime Minister Modi now seek to try something else?
But the reported account is at odds with the US Foreign Policy document which contends India did not in fact commandeer the Pakistani aircraft.
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror group killed 40 CRPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14.
"All aircraft were present and accounted for", the report quoted one of the official as saying. When the count was finally conducted, all F-16s employed by the PAF were accounted for, Foreign Policy reported.
Pakistan then claimed to have carried out a series of retaliatory air raids at sites adjacent to military targets in six locations of Indian-administered Kashmir, saying the attacks were meant to show resolve and not to cause any casualties or infrastructure damage.