As Peace Gesture, Pakistan To Free Captured Indian Pilot

Islamabad/New Delhi, Feb 28: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced on Thursday that the captured IAF pilot will be freed on Friday after New Delhi sought his unconditional, immediate and unharmed release.

Calling it a “peace gesture”, Khan told a joint session of the Pakistan National Assembly that the India-Pakistan situation should not “get out of hand” or otherwise Islamabad “will have to retaliate”.

The announcement about Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman — taken prisoner a day earlier — came hours after India demanded his release and ruled out talks on the issue, saying Pakistan cannot use this issue for a deal.

Khan said countries were ruined because of miscalculation and alleged that there was a “war hysteria” in India.

“I’m afraid there might be a miscalculation. War is not a solution. If India takes any action, we will have to retaliate,” he said at the session called to discuss the rising tensions with India.

“The only purpose of our strike (on India on Wednesday) was to demonstrate our capability and will,” he said. “We did not want to inflict any casualty on India as we wanted to act in a responsible manner.”

He said he tried to call Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the telephone on Wednesday because “escalation is not in our interests nor in India’s”.

The 35-year-old Wing Commander was captured by Pakistan on Wednesday after his MiG was shot down and it fell in Pakistani territory during a dogfight.

Earlier in the day, India said that Pakistan needed to create a conducive atmosphere for talks by taking credible and verifiable action against cross-border terrorism emanating from its soil and terrorist proxies.

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