Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday said his government has decided to release Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman tomorrow (March 1).
“As a peace gesture, we have decided to release the Indian pilot in our custody,” Khan told a joint session of parliament in Islamabad called to discuss the India-Pakistan situation.
Khan’s announcement came soon after media reports quoted Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi as saying that his country is considering freeing the IAF pilot if it leads to a de-escalation of tensions between the two countries. Khan has also offered to hold talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
Earlier, US President Donald Trump had said he has “reasonably attractive news from Pakistan and India”. “They have been going at it and we have been involved trying to have them stop. We have some reasonably decent news. I think hopefully that it’s going to come to an end,” Trump had said.
Meanwhile, government sources had told the Indian Express that India is in no mood to negotiate any deal and it wants Abhinandan back immediately and unharmed.
Tensions escalated between India and Pakistan in the wake of the Pulwama attack by Jaish-e-Mohammad on February 14. Twelve days after the Pulwama attack, India carried out air strikes against a Jaish camp in Balakot. In the operation, the government claimed, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for suicide attacks were eliminated.
Pakistan on Wednesday claimed it shot down two Indian fighter jets over Pakistani air space and arrested a pilot, identified as Wing Commander Abhinandan. (The Indian Express)