(Web Desk) – Christine Fair – an expert on South Asian political and military – has ruled out the possibility that India had shot down a Pakistani F-16 in February this year.
Fair, a professor of security studies at Georgetown University, U.S., stirred up a heated debate while speaking at a session on “Understanding the message of Balakot” alongside former Air Chief BS Dhanoa and other Indian experts at the Military Literature Festival in Chandigarh on Saturday.
She stated that the Indian Air Force (IAF) story of the operation and its aftermath was based on ‘dubious’ claims, and disputed the debris used as evidence to back claims of the F-16 being shot down.
She said the Pakistan aircraft did not have GE engines whereas some Indian experts had claimed that the debris of GE engines had been recovered.
She went on to assert that she did not believe India shot down an F-16 fighter during the dogfight between Indian and Pakistani jets in the aftermath of the Indian airstrikes over Balakot. Fair rejected the claim but admitted that Indian airplanes carried out strikes inside Pakistan.
Fair, whose work on Pakistan is frequently cited by the Indian side, took on former air chief BS Dhanoa, stating that the IAF was not based on an empirical body of facts but dictated more by “things deployed by politicians to win elections".
‘India has lost credibility’
Amidst some interruptions from the audience – comprising mostly retired and serving defence officers – Fair went on to allege that the video of the purported F-16 going down in Pakistani territory and Punjabi speaking villagers talking about a pilot having crashed there, shared extensively on social media, was “fake”. She maintained that “India has lost a lot of credibility in the ways that certain images have been deployed through social media that do not show what they show, with the level of certainty that is asserted.”
Fair also questioned India’s claim of extensive damage to what it said the “terror camp” in Balakot based on images from open sources, saying that from an international point of view, these have not been accepted. “They are refuted by many scholars who are actually India’s friends.”
She said the immediate analyses using satellite imagery done by independent experts “does not show the damage which we have been presented with”.