India-Pakistan LIVE news updates: Indian Air force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, who is in Islamabad’s custody, will be returned on Friday in what Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan calls a “peace gesture”. The announcement, made during a joint session of Parliament in Pakistan, is being seen as first signs of de-escalation of tension between the two countries.
Hours after the announcement, the Indian armed forces, at a joint press briefing in New Delhi, assured the country of “a resolute, swift and strong response when needed”. They also added that the IAF pilot’s return was “in consonance with the Geneva Convention.” It had earlier expressed objections to Pakistan’s “vulgar display” of the pilot after videos of him in the Army’s custody surfaced on social media. Sources said Delhi made it clear that there was no deal to be made and there was no room for negotiations but added that there would be consequences if the pilot was harmed or not released.
Abhinandan’s parents who are on their way to Amritsar to welcome their son were greeted by cheers, handshakes and standing ovation inflight. As their flight landed in New Delhi, instead of rushing to deboard the plane, the fellow passengers, in a gesture of gratitude, waited for the proud parents to deboard first.