KARACHI: Pakistan has put on display a statue of an Indian pilot whose plane was shot down over Kashmir earlier this year, invoking the ire of India’s media.
The life-sized statue of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman — complete with his singature moustache — has been installed in an exhibit at a museum in Karachi run by the Pakistan Air Force.
Abhinandan’s plane was shot down in a retaliation to India conducting air strikes in its territory. His capture was seen as a major setback for India.
After his capture, the Pakistani military released a video showing him sipping a cup of tea and politely refusing to answer questions. He was released later as a peace gesture from Pakistan aimed at defusing tensions.
The statue stands in a gallery named Operation Swift Retort.
The exhibit includes parts of the fuselage and tail of Abhinandan’s aircraft, a Mig-21, as well as a tea mug.
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 jokingly charging Abhinandan for the tea — at the cost of one Mig-21 — is also framed in the exhibit. Images of the mocking receipt went viral in the days after his capture.
The museum stands inside a recreational park 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,” said Samiullah Bari, a 10th grade student visiting the museum at a school trip.