:: Peoples Time Online ::
Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Vardhaman who is in Pakistan custody after an air skirmish on the border on Wednesday, will be released on Friday.
The announcement was made by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday after 4:30 pm. He called the pilot’s release a “peace gesture”.
In a press briefing on Wednesday afternoon, India officially confirmed that one Indian pilot was ‘missing in action’ after an aerial skirmish with Pakistani fighter jets.
India had called for the “immediate and safe return” of the Indian pilot, identified as Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, and termed the circulation of videos showing his “capture” by Pakistan as a violation of international law and in contravention of the Geneva Conventions.
Even before India confirmed that a pilot was missing, Pakistan media had been circulating a video of the pilot in which he identified himself as Wing Commander Abhinandan. “I am an IAF officer. My service number is 27981” while Indian officials did not mention the pilot’s name.
After India confirmed that the pilot was “missing in action”, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan called for “better sense to prevail” and renewed his offer for dialogue with India.
The pilot’s capture led to calls for peace from both sides of the border. Videos purportedly of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman – being pulled from an angry mob by Pakistan Army soldiers, then upright and blindfolded in captivity, then drinking tea – put the first human face on the costs of a possible war. On Twitter, around 2:00 pm on Wednesday, #SayNoToWar began to trend in both India and Pakistan.
One video showed the pilot being punched on a river bed, even as a voice-over shouted, “enough.” There were also images of him being led away with blood streaming down his face.
Another video was circulated of him sipping tea, as he fielded questions. The pilot, who had a black eye, said that he was “impressed” by his treatment by the Pakistan army and specifically mentioned a Pakistani captain who rescued him from the locals who were trying to accost him.