New Delhi: Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa (retired) has said Pakistan did not have a choice other than to release Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, days after his MiG-21 was downed in a dogfight in February last year.

India's armed forces were ready to wipe out Pakistan's forward bridges had Islamabad's 'military adventure' been successful in response to the Balakot aerial strikes, said Former Air Force chief BS Dhanoa.

He also added that "our military posture was very offensive".

"There are two parts to it. The main pressure on Pakistan was diplomatic and political. But there was also a military posture, the way he (Pakistan MP Ayaz Sadiq) is saying that 'his legs (General Bajwa) were shaking and all', it is because the military posture was very offensive of all the three services, Army, Navy, Air Force," Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa (retired) said.

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"And God forbid had they hit our installations on February 27, we were also in a position to wipe out their forward brigades. They know our 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. The American President Theodore Roosevelt used to say, 'Speak softly and carry a big stick'. So the big stick was the military," he added.

The former IAF chief's comments came after a Pakistani politician in their national assembly revealed how Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa was "shaking and perspiring" during a meeting to discuss Wing Commander Varthaman's capture.

The 37-year-old IAF pilot was captured by the Pakistani Army on February 27 after his MiG-21 Bison jet was shot down in a dogfight with Pakistani jets during aerial combat. Before his jet was hit, Abhinandan downed an F-16 fighter of Pakistan. The Imran Khan government on March 1 released the IAF pilot.

In the early hours of February 26, 2019, the IAF jets bombed the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror camps in Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of Pakistan and avenged the Pulwama terrorist attack that claimed the lives of 40 CRPF personnel.