Kashmir: Pakistan readies to hand over Indian pilot

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His return is expected to avert a unsafe confrontation that had raised fears of a wider conflict between the two countries.

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was downed on Wednesday over Kashmir, had been expected to be handed over to Indian authorities at the Wagah border crossing on Friday afternoon.

Addressing a joint press conference along with the Indian Army and the Indian Navy on Thursday, Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor had said, "We are happy that our pilot, who had fallen across the Line of Control and was in custody of Pakistan, is being released".

New Delhi said it had handed over to Pakistan a dossier on "specific details" of involvement of the militant group Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) in the Pulwama militant attack in Indian Kashmir on February 14, during which a suicide bomber drove a vehicle packed with explosives into a paramilitary convoy, killing at least 40 soldiers.

Following this, on the very next day, an F-16 fighter jet of the Pakistan Air Force violated the Indian air space and crossed border areas of Jammu and Kashmir's Rajouri district.

Both sides claimed to have shot each other's warplanes down, and one Indian pilot was captured.

The pilot is being hailed as a hero in India, with fireworks being set off in the capital Delhi.

Flights between Asia and Europe were severely affected, with thousands of passengers stranded, although airlines were later able to reroute many flights through China that normally pass over Pakistan.

India accused Pakistan of harbouring the Jaish-e Mohammad group behind the attack and Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised a strong response.

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Pell had said in a 2016 police interview, which was read in part to the jury, that, "The allegations are a product of fantasy". He will attend a pre-sentence hearing on Wednesday and is expected to be sentenced in the next two weeks.

He added that the statement of Karnataka BJP leader B.S. Yedyurappa that the aerial attack on the JeM terror camp in Pakistan would help the party win more seats showed how the BJP politicizes things.

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.

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.

However, Qureshi in the interview said that Pakistan is ready to take action against Azhar if India can provide evidence which can "stand in the court of law".

Meanwhile, Pakistan's airspace remained closed Friday to most air traffic, although some domestic flights were allowed on Thursday.

India and Pakistan have fought three full-blown wars - in 1965, 1971 and 1998.

India had issued a strongly-worded demarche to Pakistan objecting to the "vulgar display" of the injured pilot and had demanded his immediate and safe return.

India has handed over a dossier to Pakistan with "specific details of the JeM complicity in Pulwama terror attack and the presence of JeM terror camps and its leadership in Pakistan".

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