Indian pilot not released under 'any pressure': Shah Mahmood Qureshi

Indian pilot not released under 'any pressure': Shah Mahmood Qureshi

Indian pilot not released under 'any pressure': Shah Mahmood Qureshi

Pakistani officials handed over a captured Indian pilot to a border crossing with India on Friday in a "gesture of peace" promised by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran amid a dramatic escalation with the country's archrival over the disputed region of Kashmir. His return is expected to avert a risky confrontation that had raised fears of a wider conflict between the two countries.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to welcome back Wing Commander Abhinandan, a few minutes after he crossed into India through the Wagah-Attari border.

Wing Commander Varthaman, who was taken into custody by Pakistan after his fighter jet crashed in an air encounter between the countries on Wednesday, entered the Indian side at 9.20 pm.

The Indian pilot's ordeal since being shot down on Wednesday had made him the focal point of the crisis and he returned to his homeland to a hero's welcome, with crowds thronging the Wagah border crossing and waving Indian flags.

On Tuesday, India carried out air strikes on what it said was a militant camp in Pakistan in retaliation for a suicide bombing that killed at least 40 Indian troops in Indian-administered Kashmir on 14 February. The closures snarled air traffic. In retaliation, India withdrew Pakistan's most-favoured nation (MFN) status and raised customs duties on goods imported from Pakistan to 200 percent.

Authorities in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir closed all schools and educational institutions in the region and continue to urge parents to keep their children at home amid mounting tensions.

Abhinandan was flying one of these aircraft and he was arrested by ground forces in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

The Pakistani government, earlier this week, received a dossier on the Pulwama attack from the Indian government.

Pakistan says it will free a captured Indian pilot this Friday.

An air fight between the planes of the two types occurred on the Indian-Pakistani border on February 28. "It is an emotional moment for all of us here", said a local.

The attack was claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM), a militant group that Pakistan has banned since 2002 but is accused by India of providing sanctuary to.

With Abhinandan back home, people from both countries are hoping that tension between the countries will reduce gradually while a lot of personalities from India like cricketers, movie stars and business tycoons praised him and welcomed him back.

"Pakistan will not allow anti-state elements to risk the peace of the country or the region".

Since the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, both countries have shared a tumultuous history, which ultimately led to three wars and several conflicts.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training rebels and sending them into Indian-controlled Kashmir to launch attacks against government targets.

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