Pakistan to release IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman tomorrow as peace gesture1 min read . Updated: 01 Mar 2019, 01:03 AM IST
- Pakistan arrested Abhinandan Varthaman after his MiG-21 Bison crashed into Pakistani territory after an aerial skirmish at LoC
- Imran Khan says he hopes the international community would play its part in de-escalating the India-Pakistan conflict
Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said he will release captured Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot—Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman—on Friday as a gesture of peace. "We have captured a pilot of India. As a gesture of peace we are going to release him to India tomorrow," said Khan.
He told lawmakers in the country’s parliament he hoped the international community would play its part in de-escalating conflict with India.
Earlier on Thursday, an India official said it would not negotiate or talk with Pakistan over the fate of the captured IAF pilot.
India’s statement comes as the US urged India and Pakistan to refrain from further military action as international pressure builds on the long-standing rivals to de-escalate the most serious conflict in decades that’s seen fighter jets from both nations shot down.
'Potential risks associated with further military action by either side are unacceptably high for both countries, their neighbours, and the international community,' said a White House National Security Council official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the matter.
A day before Pakistan downed the Indian jet, the Indian Air Force carried out air strikes in Balakot against terrorists inside Pakistan. The target was a camp run by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which claimed responsibility for the 14 February Pulwama attack that killed 40 members of Central Police Reserve Force (CRPF).
India also shot down a Pakistani fighter plane on Wednesday, Raveesh Kumar, spokesman at India’s ministry of external affairs said. Indian ground troops saw the aircraft falling in Pakistani territory, he said. Pakistan’s military spokesman Asif Ghafoor, in turn, denied that the air force had lost a jet.
Bloomberg's Vrishti Beniwal contributed to this story.