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Updated January 9th, 2024 at 23:21 IST

I Was Told it Would be Big, Bigger Than…: An Insider's Account on Abhinandan’s Return to India

Ambassador Bisaria disclosed key information, stating, “Between the Pulwama terror attack and the Balakot airstrikes, there were only 12 days. In those..."

Isha Bhandari
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New Delhi: In an exclusive interview with Republic TV's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, Ajay Bisaria, the former Indian envoy to Pakistan during the 2019 Balakot airstrike, provided crucial insights into India's coercive diplomacy, ultimately leading to the return of Indian Air Force fighter pilot Abhinandan Varthaman.

Ambassador Bisaria disclosed key information, stating, “Between the Pulwama terror attack and the Balakot airstrikes, there were only 12 days. In those days, the information I got from MEA was that something bigger was being planned.” 

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The interview delved into the strategic decisions and diplomatic efforts undertaken during this critical period, shedding light on the broader context of India's coercive approach that played a pivotal role in Abhinandan's safe return.

Former Envoy Recounts Crucial Period After the Balakot Strikes 

The former envoy recounted the crucial period after the Balakot strikes, underlining the resolute demand for Abhinandan's return. 

Bisaria described the Wing Commander Abhinandan episode as a demonstration of India's diplomatic might and criticized Pakistan for displaying "vulgar machismo" when they captured the pilot.

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Bisaria emphasized that India had made it unequivocally clear that the pilot must be returned, and any failure to comply would result in escalation. 

Closed-Door Meeting Among Pakistani Leaders 

He mentioned a closed-door meeting among Pakistani leaders, revealing that Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the Pakistan Foreign Minister, appeared nervous during discussions.

India's policymakers remained steadfast in their demand for the pilot's return, and Bisaria indicated that members of the Pakistan Parliament later disclosed details of the meeting, indicating anxiety among Pakistani leaders. 

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The former envoy added that India's coercion strategy was successful in securing Abhinandan Varthaman's release, preventing a potential escalation between the two nations.

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Published January 9th, 2024 at 23:18 IST

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