Published: Sat, March 02, 2019
Sport | By Joe Gonzales

Pakistan hands over captured pilot Abhinandan Varthaman to India

Pakistan hands over captured pilot Abhinandan Varthaman to India

The officials brought the pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, to a border crossing with India for handover after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan made the commitment on Thursday.

An Indian fighter pilot who was captured in Pakistan has been allowed to return to his home country over the heavily fortified border. "Senior team of the Indian Air Force will receive Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman", Deputy Commissioner Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon said in Amritsar. The conflict worsened on Tuesday when India launched an air strike on what it said was a militant training base. India said only of its planes was lost, the MiG-21 flown by Varthaman, and Pakistan did not clarify.

Indian Air Force personnel were at the border and were to fly Vardhaman to New Delhi.

Varthaman's jet was hit this Wednesday during a dogfight involving Indian MiG-21s and Pakistani F-16s.

"The potential risks associated with further military action by either side are unacceptably high for both countries, their neighbours, and the worldwide community", said a White House National Security Council official who spoke condition of anonymity citing the sensitivity of the matter.

Earlier, Pakistani authorities handed over the pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, to Indian authorities after completing the required procedure. Both India and Pakistan administer parts of the area but claim full control.

Appreciating Prime Minister's goodwill gesture of freeing Indian pilot Abhinandan, he said that it was in line with the teaching of Islam and our own tradition but there was need of assessing the mentality of enemy in war situation.

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Modi, in his first remarks since the pilot's capture, gave a rallying speech ahead of elections in the coming months.

"Our defence forces are serving gallantly at the border", he told tens of thousands gathered across the country to listen to him in a videoconference from New Delhi.

India wants a firm commitment from Pakistan when it comes to flushing out militants on its soil - today the Pakistani foreign minister told the BBC he would act on this.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal acknowledged his country received a "dossier" from India about the February 14 attack.

"India will fight as one, India will win as one", Modi said. "I am a fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force".

The group calling itself Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility. And I would like to put this on record that I will not change my statement if I go back to my country also.

According to the spokesperson from the Ministry of External Affairs Raveesh Kumar during the press conference on Wednesday morning, they are weighing every decision whether or not to make amends with its neighboring country.

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