Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was captured by Pakistan on Wednesday, February 27, after his MiG 21 Bison fighter jet crashed on the other side of LoC while on a combat mission, was handed over to India today at the Wagah-Atari border. He was received by a team of IAF.
On Friday morning, India's acting High Commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia arrived at the Pakistan Foreign Office in Islamabad for a briefing on the release of 35-year-old Abhinandan.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, while addressing the joint session of Parliament on Thursday, had declared that the IAF Wing Commander will be released on Friday as a "peace gesture".
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Varthaman was captured on Wednesday morning after his plane was shot down in Pakistan occupied Kashmir in an air combat. Shortly after the unfortunate event, Khan had cautioned against any escalation on account of a "miscalculation", offering to resolve the hostilities diplomatically through talks.
But after an alarming footage of the officer being assaulted as a prisoner of war and then being handed a cup of tea by the captors shook the internet, India condemned "Pakistan's vulgar display of injured personnel of the IAF in violation of all norms of international humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention". Islamabad was warned "to ensure that no harm comes to the Indian defence personnel in its custody".
By yesterday evening, Pakistan's acting high commissioner had been convoked, with New Delhi lodging a demarche over the "unprovoked act of aggression", making it clear that "India reserves the right to take a firm and decisive action".
India's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had also reportedly corresponded with the US Secretary of State Wednesday evening, asserting that Pakistan deal with terrorist outfit Jaish-E-Mohammad (the perpetrator of the February 14 Pulwama attack) with an iron fist if it is interested in diffusing the escalating tension between the two States. Apparently, the US has backed India's stance.
Pakistani newspaper The Nation had, on Thursday morning, touted Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi relaying the country's inclination to deliberate on Varthaman's release "with an open heart".