Pak ready to return IAF pilot Abhinandan to ease conflict

Islamabad: Pakistan would be prepared to return Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot—Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman—shot down and captured this week if it helped ease the conflict with its neighbour, foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told Pakistani television station Geo TV on Thursday.

“We are willing to return the captured Indian pilot if it leads to de-escalation,” he was quoted as saying. He also said the Saudi foreign minister was expected to visit Pakistan with a special message from Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who visited both Pakistan and India earlier this month.

However, government sources said India has not asked for any consular access to Abhinandan. “The IAF pilot has to be repatriated unconditionally and immediately, there is no question of any deal,” the Press Trust of India quoted people in the government as saying.

The Pakistan air force specifically targeted Indian military facilities while IAF targeted only the JeM terror camp, the people said, adding that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has to walk the talk on investigating Pulwama attack.

Why did the Pakistan PM say two Indian jets were downed, was he not briefed or did he say an untruth, asked the people quoted above. India is waiting for immediate, credible and verifiable action against terrorists and their proxies, they added.

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