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In clash of neighbours, Pak blinks; to release IAF pilot

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on March 01, 2019 Published on February 28, 2019

Rear admiral Dalbir Singh Gujral flanked by Major General Surendra Singh Mahal, Air Vice-Marshal RGK Kapoor addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Thursday, Feb 28, 2019

Imran Khan announced in Pakistan’s National Assembly that the country would release Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman on Friday. File Photo   -  PTI

Ready for talks says Imran Khan; possible only if right environment is created asserts India

A rather action packed day ended with Pakistan annoucing that the captured Indian Air Force pilot will be released on Friday and India stating that it was a gesture in consonance with all Geneva conventions.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan informed his Parliament that the captured Indian Air Force pilot will be released on Friday after the international community intensified pressure on the country to de-escalate the on-going tension with India. New Delhi earlier expressed its unwillingness to either negotiate or strike a deal on the release.

While the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a function to give away S S Bhatnagar prizes to scientists said "You people spend your lives in research laborataries follow the practice of doing pilot projects before scaling up things. Just now, there was a pilot project...," he said to the thundering applause from the gathering without stating what the Pilot Project was.

On the ongoing tension with Pakistan New Delhi believes that the onus of ending it rested on Islamabad as India has already established that its action in Balakot targeted banned terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad’s training camp and was a pre-emptive strike, a government source said.

“The ball is in the Pakistani court as India has already shared evidence (of terror camps in Pakistan). The Prime Minister of Pakistan said that the country is ready to investigate terrorism. Let him walk the talk,” the source added.

Interestingly, US President Donald Trump announced in Hanoi that ``reasonably good news’’ was expected from India and Pakistan a few hours before Khan stated in Pakistan’s National Assembly that the country would release Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman on Friday. The pilot was captured on Wednesday after his airplane was shot down by the Pakistani forces.

International pressure has been increasing on India and Pakistan to de-escalate tension with many including the US, the EU, France and China calling for measured response from both countries following the aerial encounter on Wednesday.

“The Indian Air Force is happy that our pilot who was in Pakistan’s custody will be released,” Air Vice Marshall Ravi Kapoor said in a press briefing on Thursday.

Responding to questions on Pakistan Prime Minister’s call for talks to de-escalate tension, Kapoor said, “He (Khan) is the one who targeted our military installations. He is the one who escalated the situation. We are ready. If he provokes us any further we are ready for any contingency”.

Talks will be possible only when Pakistan created the right environment for it. “There has to be immediate, credible and verifiable action against terror groups in Pakistan for talks to take place,” the source quoted earlier in the story added.

Signalling that New Delhi was not keen on escalating matters, the source said that the country was in favour of continued people-to-people engagement and was willing to go ahead with bilateral talks with Pakistan on the Kartarpur corridor scheduled on March 13.

“India is ready to go ahead with the scheduled bilateral talks with Pakistan on March 13 to operationalise the Kartarpur corridor. India doesn’t want to affect people-to people relations. It is up to Pakistan to take a decision,” he said.

Read also: IAF pilot in Pakistani custody will be governed under Geneva Convention

Leaders from various parties attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “mega video conference” with over one crore booth-level workers of the BJP using the NaMo app on Thursday. Opposition parties had decided the previous day to “expose” the BJP’s attempts to politicise anti-terrorist operations of the defence forces.

India conducted air strikes on JeM’s training camp in Balakot on Tuesday morning in response to the terror outfits suicide attack in Pulwama, Jammu & Kashmir, earlier this month in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed. The MEA said that it had received credible information that JeM was planning more attacks across India and the strike was a pre-emptive one.

 

 

 

Published on February 28, 2019
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