The Hush Post| 08:10pm| 2-min-read
Days after Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was released from Pakistan custody, media reports say that the United States had weighed in on the Pakistan Army to release him.
The US made it possible through high-level military channels. It told Pakistan that it was the only way out to de-escalate matters.
A media report in The Economic Times has said that US Centcom Commander Gen Joseph Votel spoke to Pakistan Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa “encouraging him” to release Wing Commander Abhinandan at the earliest.
Three US commanders who made it possible
Centcom Commander is the principal interface for the Pakistan Army Chief with the US. Centcom is responsible for operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is involved in facilitating diplomatic effort to engage the Taliban.
While Gen Votel corresponded with the Pakistan Army Chief, the US National Security Advisor John Bolton, who was in regular touch with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, according to the report.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen Joseph Dunford , also spoke to his Pakistan counterpart Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat. He made it clear that Washington saw the Pakistan action after India’s counter-terrorism strike on Balakot as escalatory.
US military interlocutors told Pakistan Army that it would not endorse the use of Wing Commander Abhinandan as a “bargaining chip”.
Additionally, United Kingdom which has “deep influence” with the Pakistan Army also talked to them.
Pressure within Pakistan system not to “give in”
However, there was also considerable pressure within the Pakistan system not to “give in” as a captured Indian pilot was a “prize catch” in a warlike situation, according to the report.
India, meanwhile, had moved up its forces and asked Washington to ensure that Wing Commander Abhinandan was treated with dignity.
While Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s announcement about release of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was welcome, there was fair amount of tension on the day Wing Commander Abhinandan was to walk across the Wagah border.
Suddenly, sources said, there was a message from some quarters in Pakistan that certain “legal obstacles” had to be cleared.
The day Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was to be released, hours of repeated conversations between American and Pakistani officials facilitated his release. US was constantly pushing Pakistani officials at all levels to not delay the release at the last moment, the report said.