New Delhi, March 1: Pakistan will release Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman of the Indian Air Force (IAF), who was captured when his MiG-21 went down in Pakistan-occupied territory. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday announced in the National Assembly that the captured IAF pilot will be freed as a 'peace gesture'. Abhinandan Varthaman will be returning to India between mid-noon and 1 pm. Catch live news updates on Abhinandan Varthaman's homecoming.
Pakistan is expected to hand over Wing Commander Varthaman, son of a decorated IAF veteran, to the Indian high commission. He is likely to cross over from the Wagah border. It is not clear who will be at the Wagah border to welcome the IAF pilot on his arrival from Pakistan. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has offered to receive Wing Commander Varthaman at the border.
Wing Commander Varthaman's MiG-21 crashed in Pakistan-occupied territory on Wednesday during an Indian Air Force operation to thwart Pakistani planes intruding into Indian airspace. He downed an F-16 fighter jet of Pakistan Air Force by firing an R-73 air-to-air missile before his fighter jet was hit. He was then captured by Pakistan. After Imran Khan's Pitch For Talks, India Hands Over Dossier to Pakistan With Details of JeM Role in Pulwama Attack.
On Wednesday, Pakistan carried out a retaliatory aerial raid unsuccessfully targeting Indian defence facilities in Jammu and Kashmir, a day after the IAF struck a terrorist training camp in Pakistan. The air strike was carried out 12 days after a suicide bomber killed more than 40 Central Reserve Police Force troopers. Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed admitted to carrying out the attack.