Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday informed that the Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman will be released this afternoon through the Wagah-Attari joint check-post, two days after he was captured across the Line of Control after shooting down a Pakistan Air Force F-16 jet.
According to reports, he will be handed over to civilian authorities and representative of Indian High Commission at the Wagah-Attari border in Punjab’s Amritsar by the Pakistan army. The civilian authorities will then hand him over to the Indian Border Security Force (BSF).
Earlier on Thursday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced that Wing Commander Abhinandan will be freed on Friday as a “gesture of peace”.
Quoting sources, an IANS report said the 35-year-old pilot would be brought to the Wagah-Attari JCP between noon and 2 pm, though the Border Security Force (BSF) had not been communicated the exact time.
The decision came after India said that it will not agree on any deal with Pakistan and demanded his unconditional and immediate release.
Government sources said that India has not asked for consular access but the immediate release of the IAF pilot.
Dismissing chances of any talks, the government sources stressed on “immediate, credible and verifiable action against terror is required before any conversation”.
The announcement of Wg Cdr Abhinandan’s release came on the day when Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told a Pakistani news channel that Imran Khan is ready for talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the phone and offer peace.
In an interview to Geo News, Qureshi said that Pakistan is willing to consider returning the Indian pilot if it helps in de-escalation of the current situation between the two nations.
Pakistani Air Force jets violated Indian airspace in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri sector on Wednesday morning and attempted to target Indian military installations, but missed their targets. They were immediately pushed back by Indian jets on air patrol, who also shot down a Pakistani F-16 whose wreckage fell on the other side of the LoC.
The IAF officer was captured on Wednesday after his MiG-21 Bison fighter jet was hit during an air combat with Pakistan Air Force jets near the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir and he landed on the other side of the LoC.