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ISLAMABAD : Pakistan's Foreign Office on Friday announced the returning of IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to India but described him as a "prisoner of war" (POW).

In a statement issued minutes after the pilot crossed over to India from the Wagah-Attari border, the FO said, "While in captivity, he was treated with dignity and in line with international law."

"The captured Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman has been returned to India today," it said.

Varthaman was arrested when his jet MIG-21 crashed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir after being shot down by Pakistan Air Force on 27 February.

The statement described the pilot as an "India POW".

Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the Indian pilot's return in Parliament on Thursday as a "goodwill gesture" aimed at de-escalating rising tensions between the two countries following the February 14 Pulwama terror attack carried out by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group.

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