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Indian Pilot to return home today; US welcomes Pakistan’s decision to release captured Indian pilot

Missing Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Pilot Abhinandan Varthaman is coming back to India today. Wing Commander Abhinandan, who was captured by Pakistan authority, will be handed over India through Attari-Wagah border. This comes after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan yesterday announced in Parliament in Islamabad that the Wing Commander would be released on Friday as a “gesture of peace”.

Earlier in a stern message to Pakistan, India yesterday ruled out any deal on the return of Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. New Delhi has sought unconditional and immediate return of the IAF pilot, according to a PTI report. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Islamabad was “willing to consider returning Indian pilot” if it leads to ‘de-escalation’, the report said. IAF and Indian Army will jointly address media this evening.

The Narendra Modi government wanted Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to walk the talk on investigating the Pulwama attack on CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir on February 14. New Delhi also asserted that it wants strict and prompt action against terrorists who are using Pakistan soil to carry out attacks in India. It has firmly said it has not asked for any consular access to the IAF pilot.

IAF Wing Commander Pilot Abhinandan set to be released!  The government due to security reasons has not announced any time or place to hand him over to Indian authorities. But diplomatic sources said that the pilot will be taken to the Wagah border crossing near Lahore and handed over to officials of the Indian High Commission.

China has cancelled all flights to and from Pakistan and rerouted its international aircraft flying over the Pakistani airspace due to the regional tensions, official media here reported on Friday. The closure of Pakistan’s airspace in response to escalating tensions with India disrupted major routes between Europe and South East Asia and left thousands of air travellers stranded worldwide. Flights from the Middle East that usually overfly Pakistan and the Pakistan-India border will have to re-route over India, Myanmar or central Asia to enter China, civil aviation experts told Global Times.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is in Abu Dhabi to attend the foreign ministers’ meet of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) states where she is expected to raise the issue of terrorism, amidst Indo-Pak tensions following the Pulwama terror attack. Swaraj will attend the inaugural plenary of the two-day meeting on Friday. It is for the first time that India has been invited to a meeting of the OIC, an influential grouping of 57 Islamic countries, as the guest of honour. India’s engagement with the OIC comes in the midst of escalating tension between India and Pakistan. The ties strained further after Indian fighter jets bombed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed’s biggest training camp near Balakot deep inside Pakistan early Tuesday. Pakistan carried out a retaliatory aerial raid on Wednesday.

According to TV reports, activist in Pakistan filed a plea in court against the release of Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Pilot Abhinandan.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, “On a day when our country is grappling with another crisis of mad rush of mutual self destruction played b/w India-Pak. Our basic problem is to get rid of chronic poverty, ignorance and disease which still afflicts citizens in our 2 countries.

 Pakistan violates ceasefire in Uri sector, civilian injured

Simultaneously, the US has urged both India and Pakistan to take immediate steps to de-escalate tensions.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Thursday joined other lawmakers in expressing concern over the escalating tension between India and Pakistan.

“This is “a result of a Pakistan-based terrorist group’s brutal attack”, he said.“I urge both countries to de-escalate the mounting tensions,” Hoyer said.First Published on Mar 1, 2019 08:29 am

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