Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan — who was captured by Pakistan after his MiG 21 Bison aircraft was shot down by a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) jet and later returned to India — praised the Pakistan Army’s chivalry and said he saw “no reason for us to continue with any kind of hostilities”.
In newly-released footage, obtained by Dawn.com, Abhinandan noted that he saw no differences between the landscape and people of Pakistan and India when he was descending in his parachute after his plane had been shot down. The footage appears to be from the same interview, a part of which was aired after his capture two years ago.
“I could not find any difference between the two countries from above. Both are equally beautiful and when I [descended], I did not even know whether I was in Pakistan or my own country, India because both countries looked the same to me. All the people, everything looked the same to me.”
Recounting what happened on the day of his capture, Abhinandan said that he had been injured “quite badly and was unable to move”. When it seemed to me that I was not in my own country, I tried to run away, he continued.
He revealed that Pakistani citizens whose “passion was quite high” wanted to catch the Indian pilot. However, two soldiers of the Pakistan Army reached his location, took hold of him and “saved me”.
“A captain of the Pakistani Army came, he saved me from these people. He took me to his unit where I was given first aid and after that I was taken to the hospital where I was checked and given more aid. Since then, I am here [at the place] I am right now […] with your hospitality,” he continued.
Abhinandan then moved on to Kashmir, saying “neither you nor I know” what is happening in the occupied territory.
The Indian official praised the Pakistan Army, saying he found it to be “a very fine, professional force and very chivalrous”.
“I am very impressed by the chivalry which has been displayed by the Pakistani Army,” he added.
Abhinandan also expressed the hope that peace could be established between the two neighbours. “I do not know what needs to be done to bring about peace but I only know that there should be peace. And I see no reason for us to continue with any kind of hostilities. I want that peace [should] be established.
“We can live in peace,” he emphasised.
Abhinandan was arrested on Feb 27, 2019, after his aircraft was shot down by the PAF upon violating Pakistani airspace.
He was initially 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.
He was later handed over in a gesture of peace to India at the Wagah border on March 1, 2019.