Bharatiya Janata Party President JP Nadda on Thursday criticised Rahul Gandhi for mocking the Indian Army and the Narendra Modi government, saying he hoped the “Congress princeling found some light” after hearing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Ayaz Sadiq’s statements about India.

Nadda’s criticism came after a video, doing rounds on the social media, purportedly showed the Pakistani parliamentarian recount the events of a meeting in February last year, when the Imran Khan government decided to release Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.

Sadiq said that at the meeting, a frightened Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi warned that if Pakistan did not let Varthaman go, India would attack Pakistan “that night by 9 pm”.

Varthaman was flying a MiG-21 fighter jet when he was captured by Pakistan in February 2019 after his aircraft went down during a dogfight between Indian and Pakistani aircraft. He was released and returned to India on March 1, 2019.

Sadiq said Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s “legs were shaking” as the country’s foreign minister entreated that the captured IAF pilot be set free, for an attack by India was imminent.

“I still remember that Shah Mehmood Qureshi was in that meeting in which PM Irfan Khan had refused to come and Chief of Army staff was present,” Sadiq can be heard saying in the video. “His feet were trembling. He was sweating. Foreign Minister said, for God’s sake, please let him go, otherwise, India will attack Pakistan at 9 pm tonight.”

Nadda on Thursday shared video on Twitter in an apparent gesture to assert India’s military superiority over its neighbour. The BJP president, however, chose to target Gandhi, who he has often accused of having ties with Pakistan.

“Congress’ princeling does not believe anything Indian, be it our Army, our Government, our Citizens,” Nadda wrote. “So, here is something from his ‘Most Trusted Nation’, Pakistan. Hopefully now he sees some light.”

In a separate tweet, Nadda also criticised the Congress for relentlessly questioning the government’s defence policies. “Congress Party premised it’s entire campaign around keeping our armed forces weak,” he said. “They mocked our armed forces, questioned their valour and tried every trick to ensure India doesn’t get latest Rafale Planes. The people [of] India rejected such politics and punished Congress.”

The Rafale deal had become a major political flashpoint during the Lok Sabha election campaign last year. Gandhi, among others, had accused Modi of treason and corruption multiple times, and alleged that he had acted as a middleman for industrialist Anil Ambani in the contract.

Gandhi has also repeatedly questioned the government’s version of events of military tensions between India and China in Ladakh, claiming the Centre was hiding the extent of Chinese intrusion on Indian territory.

‘Pakistan had no option’: Former IAF chief

Meanwhile, former Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said Pakistan did not have a choice but to release Wing Commander Varthaman days after his MiG-21 was downed in a dogfight in February 2019, NDTV reported.

Dhanoa said Pakistan was aware of India’s military capability. “Basically, if this thing is there in their mind that we are likely to strike, they first look at how their own military is doing,” he said.

“There are two parts to it, the main pressure on Pakistan was diplomatic and political,” he added.
“But there was also a military posture, the way he [Sadiq] is saying that ‘his legs [General Bajwa’s] were shaking and all’, it is because the military posture was very offensive of all the three services, Army, Navy, Air Force.”