Pakistan hands over captured pilot to India


He also said that the release of Indian Air Force air commander Abhinandan Varthaman is a gesture of peace and that this should be viewed as Pakistan's attempt to de-escalate tensions between the two countries.

Pakistan's military spokesman said that Pakistan fighter jets had carried out "strikes" - exactly what they did remains unclear - in Indian-administered Kashmir on Wednesday.

The pilot was whisked away in a convoy by Indian officials away from the public glare.

Throughout the day, crowds on the Indian side thronged the road to the crossing, shouting nationalist slogans and waving Indian flags.

Abhinandan was captured a day after Indian fighter planes bombed what India said was a militant camp in Pakistan, in retaliation for a suicide bombing in Kashmir on February 14 that killed 40 paramilitaries.

The IAF pilot, defence forces said, shot down the jet which was on a mission to attack Indian military base. They are doing it as Saudi Arabia has mounted pressure on them.

"As a gesture of peace we are going to release him to India tomorrow", Mr Khan told the country's parliament on Thursday.

India welcomed Pakistan's decision to release its pilot despite the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan failing to say whether the release was conditional. He did not elaborate. "He is unwell to the extent that he can not leave his house", the Pakistan minister said.

He was captured and beaten by a mob and taken into custody while the country's leaders pleaded for both sides to show restraint.

In a sign of the deepening crisis, Pakistan closed its airspace "until further notice".

Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said Friday that flights could land and depart from its main airports from 1300 GMT, and that others would be opened "gradually".

Residents of the Pakistani border town of Chikhoti reported heavy shelling overnight and Friday morning.

Both India and Pakistan claim all of Kashmir but each only control part of it.

Qureshi also mentioned that the Imran Khan's government has a new mindset, and it aims to end the war in region to foster peace. He refused to provide details about the information that New Delhi has shared.

Following his capture, videos of the IAF pilot were shared on social media by official Pakistani Twitter handle.

Wing Commander Abhinanadan is likely to be handed over to the Indian authorities at Wagah border on Friday afternoon. "The country is facing challenging times and it will fight, live, work and win unitedly".

To a question whether Pakistan would consider arresting Azhar, Qureshi said India would first have to provide "evidence which is acceptable in court".

"(Prime Minister Narendra) Modi will teach them a lesson", one man at Wagah told Indian television.

Pakistan has boycotted the plenary session of OIC meet to protest India's participation there.

Qureshi said that if India wants to talk about terrorism, then we are ready.