Pakistan to Release Indian Pilot on Friday as ‘Peace Gesture’

Pakistan to Release Indian Pilot on Friday as 'Peace Gesture'

TEHRAN (FNA)– Prime Minister Imran Khan stated that the Indian pilot who was captured by Pakistani forces will be released on Friday, after New Delhi called upon Islamabad to release and return the Indian pilot who was arrested by the Pakistan Army after his aircraft had been shot down.

“As a peace gesture we will be releasing him tomorrow,” Khan told parliament in Islamabad on Thursday, RIA Novosti reported.

Khan, making the announcement in an address to both houses of Parliament, added that he tried to reach Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday with a message that he wants to de-escalate tension.

Talking about the incident, he stated that he had feared that India could have launched a missile attack, but the situation was later calmed.

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated as the two countries engaged in an air battle.

Pakistan claimed on Wednesday that it had downed two Indian warplanes which entered its airspace over the disputed Kashmir border, and captured an Indian pilot.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Indian Armed Forces officials confirmed having shot down a Pakistani Air Force F-16, saying the plane was downed by an Indian MiG 21 Bison on Wednesday in a skirmish.

Indian Air Force officials noted that they were pleased with Pakistan’s decision to return Indian fighter pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, and looked forward to his return to India.

The Indian Armed Forces also stressed that the Indian Navy was put in a high state of readiness amid tensions between the two countries, with its surface, submarine and air components ready to ‘deter and defeat’ any ‘misadventure’ by Pakistan.

It came a day after Indian jets crossed into Pakistan to bomb a Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camp in the Kashmir region.

India’s air raids in Pakistan came after a deadly terrorist attack when a car carrying over 100 pounds of explosives detonated next to a security convoy, killing 45 Indian paramilitary officers. India named Maulana Masood Azhar, the leader of the Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist group residing in Pakistan, as the person responsible for ordering the attack and accused Pakistan of harboring and protecting terrorists. In turn, Islamabad has rejected the allegations of its involvement in the attack.

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