LAHORE: As a peace gesture in the region, Pakistan handed over captured Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot and Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to Indian authorities at Wahga border on Friday night.
He was captured by Pakistan armed forces by downing Indian fighter jet Wednesday.
Before handing over, Abhinandan was shifted to Wahga border for handing him over to Indian authorities, where formal process was finalized.
Earlier in the day, Indian acting High Commissioner visited the Foreign Office where he was formally informed about handing over of the Indian pilot.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced on Thursday that Pakistan would release IAF pilot to India as peace gesture.
“We have captured Indian pilot. We, as a peace gesture, will release him tomorrow,” Imran said while addressing the joint session of the parliament in Islamabad. Efforts for de-escalation should not be treated as our weakness, Khan had pointed out to India.
Khan said he was ready to have dialogue with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said, “I tried to speak to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as I want to de-escalate prevailing tension between the two countries.”
“I appeal to India and Narendra Modi not to escalate the situation further. It would not be in favour of either India or Pakistan given the kind of weapons the two countries have,” said Khan.
The decision to free India pilot will help ease tension between the two neighboring countries.
India asked Pakistan to return the Indian Air Force pilot safely, who was missing in action after Pakistan shot down a MIG 21 jet. The IFA pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, is in Pakistan Army’s custody since Wednesday morning
Two IAF jets were shot down by Pakistan Air Force (PAF) inside the Pakistani airspace on Wednesday.
One of the aircraft fell inside AJ&K while other fell inside IOK. One Indian pilot was arrested by Pakistan troops on ground.
The Foreign Office in a statement said the Pakistan Air Force undertook the strikes across the Line of Control from within Pakistani airspace.
According to Indian meida, IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman has been a fighter pilot for 16 years and is the son of a decorated and senior officer of the air force.
Varthaman is an alumnus of the Khadakwasla-based National Defence Academy. He was an accomplished Sukhoi-30 fighter pilot before being assigned to the MiG-21 Bison squadron.
After his capture, he was seen in a video spelling out his name and service number. In another video, Varthaman was seen sipping tea and saying that he was treated well. In the clip, he described the Pakistani armed forces personnel as “thorough gentlemen”. “This is what I would expect my army to behave, and I am thoroughly impressed,” he said.
The 38-year-old pilot, Varthaman, who is married and has two children, hails from Tamil Nadu’s Tiruvannamalai district. He completed his education in Delhi because his father was posted in the capital.