Information Minister Shibli Faraz on Friday said that the time to apologise for PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq’s remarks had passed, adding that now the law will take its course.
The information minister was referring to Sadiq’s statement made in the National Assembly, in which the latter suggested that the PTI government had released Indian pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman in capitulation, fearing an imminent attack from India.
“The remarks by Ayaz Sadiq are beyond apology. Now the law will take its course,” Faraz tweeted.
“Weakening the state is an unforgivable crime for which Ayaz Sadiq and his companions must be punished,” the federal minister added.
In a press conference yesterday, Faraz had demanded an unconditional apology from Ayaz Sadiq over his remarks.
“His statement has only pleased Indians and they are exhilarated after what a person of high stature stated in the National Assembly,” he said.
Separately, in a press briefing yesterday, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar, without naming anyone, said that it was “disappointing” and “misleading” to attempt to link Abhinandan’s release with anything other than Pakistan’s mature response as a responsible state.
“Pakistan responded to India in broad daylight after announcing it,” the DG ISPR said in a press conference. “Not only did we give an appropriate reply, but also shot down two enemy war planes [and] Wing Commander Abhinandan was captured.”
“Being a responsible state, the Government of Pakistan in order to give peace another chance decided to release Indian prisoner of war Wing Commander Abhinandan,” he added, emphasising that this decision, which was in line with the Geneva Convention, was praised the world over.
Abhinandan was captured in February 2019 after his plane was shot down by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) after it violated Pakistani airspace in a serious escalation of hostilities between India and Pakistan.
A day after his capture, Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced that the pilot would be released as a “gesture of peace” to India.
While speaking in the lower house of parliament on Wednesday, Sadiq had claimed that Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had during the post-Pulwama military stand-off with India urged the opposition parties at a meeting of the parliamentary groups to let the captured Indian pilot go because India was set to attack Pakistan that night.
“I remember [Foreign Minister] Shah Mahmood Qureshi sahib was present in that meeting, which the prime minister had refused to attend. The chief of army staff also attended,” Sadiq had said while responding to federal minister Murad Saeed.
“With legs shaking and sweat on the forehead, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said to us, ‘For God’s sake, let him (Abhinandan) go back now’,” he had claimed, adding “no attack was imminent; they only wanted to capitulate and send Abhinandan back”.
As his comments went viral on social media and were picked up by Indian television channels, Sadiq issued a clarification on Thursday, saying the tweets and Indian media reports were “totally contrary” to what he actually said in the parliament.
However, his criticism of Prime Minister Imran was unrelenting. He questioned the circumstances under which the decision to release Abhinandan was taken and insisted that the move was wrong.
“Abhinandan had not come to Pakistan to distribute sweets; he had attacked Pakistan and it was a victory for Pakistan when his plane was shot down,” he said in a video message.