Pakistan hands back Indian pilot in ‘peace gesture’ | Daily News


Pakistan hands back Indian pilot in ‘peace gesture’

Pakistan has handed back an Indian pilot who has become the face of the worst military crisis between the two countries in decades in a gesture aimed at demonstrating its willingness to de-escalate the conflict.

Wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was shot down during the first publicly acknowledged dogfight between the two countries in 48 years on Wednesday, was returned to India on yesterday evening at the Wagah border crossing in Punjab.

Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister, had announced his impending release in parliament on Thursday, calling it a “peace gesture”.

The pilot’s homecoming sparked jubilation in India. Large crowds gathered near the border post cheering, dancing and waving Indian flags in scenes broadcast live on major TV news channels, who counted down the hours to Varthaman’s return throughout the afternoon and evening. A Bollywood filmmaker has already applied to copyright the movie title “Abhinandan”.Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, had said the handover would take place during the afternoon, but it was late evening in India by the time officials confirmed they had Varthaman in their custody.

Varthaman’s parents flew from Chennai to Delhi on a midnight flight on Thursday, where they received a standing ovation from passengers. They drove to Amritsar, the closest city to the Wagah border, soon after touching down in the capital.(The Guardian).


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