Abhinandan is back

A statue (مجسمہ) of Abhinandan whose jet (طیارہ) was targeted (ہدف بنایا گیا) and shot down (مار گرایا) by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) over Indian-occupied Kashmir earlier this year has been placed on display (نمائش کے لیے) in Karachi, invoking the ire (برہمی) of India’s media.

Abhinandan ‘s plane was shot down in a dogfight (دو لڑاکا طیاروں کے مابین جنگ) over the disputed Himalayan region in February during clashes which brought nuclear-armed India and Pakistan to the brink of a new war. He was released several days later in a peace gesture (پرامن رہنےکے اشارے کے طور پر) from Pakistan aimed at defusing tensions.

The statue has been placed in a gallery named Operation Swift Retort.The exhibit (نمائش) includes parts of the fuselage and tail of Varthaman’s aircraft, a Mig-21, as well as a tea mug — though apparently not the same one the pilot was seen sipping (چائے کی چسکی لیتے ہوئے) from. The gallery also contains images re-enacting the moment his plane was shot down, and photographs showing him being handed back to India at the Wagah border crossing.

A mess receipt (رسید) jokingly charging Varthaman for the tea — at the cost of one Mig-21 — is also put in a frame in the exhibit. Images of the mocking receipt went viral in the days after his capture (گرفتاری کے بعد).

The museum stands inside a recreational park (تفریحی پارک) for young people in Karachi, complete with decommissioned aircraft and other military hardware. “I feel very proud of my country seeing Abhinandan’s statue at the gallery,” expressed Samiullah Bari, a student 10th grade visiting the museum on a school trip.

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