- PM Modi raises India's aerial encounter with Pak in February
- IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was captured after shooting down Pak jet
- US official said India was ready to retaliate if pilot not returned: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said he had warned Pakistan of "consequences" if it did not return Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, who was captured after an aerial dogfight with Pakistani F-16s that had violated Indian airspace and targeted military installations in February.
Pakistan released Abhinandan Varthaman - who downed an F-16 fighter before his jet was hit - on the night of March 1.
Addressing an election rally at Patan in his home state Gujarat today, PM Modi spoke of a US claim that India had kept 12 missiles ready.
"A senior American official said on the second day that Modi has kept ready 12 missiles and might attack and the situation will deteriorate. Pakistan announced they would return the pilot on the second day, else it was going to be a 'qatal ki raat'' (a night of slaughter)," PM Modi was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.
Then he added: "This was said by America, I have nothing to say about this now, I will speak about it when the time comes".
New Delhi, he said, had conducted a press conference and warned Pakistan that "if anything happened to our pilot, you will keep telling the world that Modi did this to you".
The IAF pilot's release took place after some behind-the-scene manoeuvring by the international community - especially the US, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
While US President Donald Trump had indicated a role, UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed made phone calls to Imran Khan and PM Modi, stressing - according to a tweet - "the importance of dealing wisely and giving priority to dialogue and communication". The Saudi Finance Minister flew to Islamabad and the Saudi envoy met PM Modi in Delhi.
There was no official comment from the Indian government on these efforts.
Today, asserting his government's commitment towards national security, PM Modi said whether the Prime Minister's chair remains or not, he has decided that either he would be alive or terrorists would remain alive.