Pakistan brings captured Indian pilot to border


Indians dance as they wait to welcome Indian fighter pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman at the border with Pakistan in Wagah, 17.5 miles from Amritsar, India. Air Vice Marshal R J K Kapoor, an Indian Air Force spokesman, said the force was "extremely happy and looks forward to the return of the Indian pilot".

Varthaman's release came a day after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan made the announcement in a speech to Pakistan's parliament on February 28.

Despite hopes on both sides that the pilot's release might prompt a de-escalation, shelling continues along the Line of Control, the de facto border between Indian and Pakistani-controlled sides of Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan territory the two countries have fought three wars over. New Delhi and Islamabad claimed that each other's planes had been shot down.

"I tried to call Narendra Modi yesterday".

"I wish India, instead of attacking Pakistan, had shared earlier the dossier, which we received today".

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"I am hopeful that we can take down the tension there, at least for the time being, so they can begin to have conversations that don't portend risk of escalation to either of the two countries", Pompeo told reporters accompanying him aboard his plane when he flew from Vietnam to the Philippines.

A close Pakistani ally, China has blocked India's attempts to have the United Nations list as a terrorist the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammad, a Pakistan-based group that claimed responsibility for a deadly suicide bombing on Indian troops earlier in February in Indian-Controlled Kashmir. He wrote to the Indian prime minister, saying "let the two foreign ministers meet on the sidelines in NY so that they can chart a way forward". Two of them were over the ownership of Kashmir, which the two sides claim in its entirety.

Tensions escalated as Indian and Pakistani fighter jets engaged in an aerial combat on Wednesday morning.

India carried out air strikes against the biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot.

The highly symbolic Wagah crossing point, where the handover is due to take place, is famed for hosting colourful rival ceremonies by Indian and Pakistani soldiers each day at sundown.

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Images then circulated of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's capture, which were condemned for what appeared to be a physical attack at the hands of residents in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, but also praised because of the actions of the Pakistani soldiers who intervened to create a barrier.

"When I learned about the tragic Pulwama attack, I condemned it and made a very balanced and honest offer (to India)".

On Thursday, Mamata Banerjee, one of the main leaders of an Indian opposition coalition attempting to unseat Modi, requested more information about the attack.

"Our leadership should reciprocate", she tweeted.

Qureshi also told the channel that it's not a matter of doubting what Azhar or his outfit have been accused of doing but "there is a legal process and you have to satisfy it" and asked that India "initiate a dialogue" and share any such evidence with Pakistan "so that we can convince the people and we can convince the independent judiciary of Pakistan". Pakistan has denied reports that one of its jets was shot down by Indian forces.

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Kuldeep Khoda, Indian Kashmir's former chief of police, agreed. It later aired a video of the Indian pilot, further infuriating the Indian officials. "But it may temporarily defuse tension between the two sides".