New Delhi: Weeks after claiming that it had not used US-manufactured F-16s to hit Indian fighter jets during the aerial combat on February 27, Pakistan military on Monday changed its stance and asserted that Islamabad had the right to use “anything and everything” in its self defence. Issuing a statement, Pakistan’s military spokesman Major Gen Asif Ghafoor said,”As regard Pakistan Air Force (PAF) action for strikes across Line of Control, it was done by JF-17 from within Pakistan airspace. Later, when two Indian jets crossed the Line of Control, they were shot down by the PAF. When two Indian jets crossed the Line of Control, they were shot down by the PAF, he claimed. “Whether it was F-16 or JF-17 which shot down 2 Indian aircraft is immaterial.”

He added,”Even if F-16 have been used as at that point in time complete PAF was airborne including F16s, the fact remains that Pakistan Airforce shot down two Indian jets in self defence.” Ghafoor further said that Pakistan had right to use anything for its defence. “India can assume any type of their choice even F-16. Pakistan retains the right to use anything and everything in its legitimate self defence,” he added.

He also rejected that any F-16 was destroyed by Indian Air Force in the dogfight. “The event of February 27 is part of history now. No Pakistani F-16 was hit by Indian Airforce,” he said.

Earlier on February 28, the Indian Air Force had displayed parts of an AMRAAM missile as evidence to “conclusively” prove that Pakistan deployed F-16s during the aerial raid targeting Indian military installations in Kashmir. Addressing reporters, IAF had said Pakistan does not have any other fighters capable of firing an AMRAAM missile.

India has also given proof to America about the use of US-manufactured F-16 jets and AMRAAM beyond visual range air-to-air missile by Pakistan during its aerial raid. But Pakistan had maintainted that only JF-17 was used against India on February 27.

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after the February 14 attack by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed in Pulwama that killed 40 CRPF soldiers.

12 days after the deadly attack, the Indian Air Force carried out a counter-terror operation, decimating biggest terror hideouts of JeM in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured an Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, who was handed over to India later.

The United States had also pulled up Pakistan for the ‘potential misuse’ of American-made F-16 fighter jets against India.“We are aware of these reports and are seeking more information,” a State Department spokesperson told PTI when asked about report that Pakistan has violated end-user agreement with the United States in this week’s border clash with India.

According to Pentagon’s Defense Security and Cooperation Agency (DSCA) F-16 jets were meant to be used to “enhance Pakistan’s ability to conduct counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations”. As per publicly available documents, the US has imposed nearly a dozen restriction on Pakistan related to its use of F-16.