Tensions ease as Indian pilot released

Beyond visual range air to air AMRAAM missile showed lie of Pakistan

When Pakistan's Khan announced on Thursday that the pilot would be returned, he did so with a warning to Modi: "I want to say it to India today: Don't take this any further, Pakistan will be forced to retaliate", Khan said.

The pilot released on Friday by Pakistani authorities was shot down in a subsequent air exercise by Indian military, held on Wednesday.

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was handed over to Indian officials on Friday at the only legal border crossing with Pakistan.

Both sides accuse the other of breaching a ceasefire and no sign yet of any de-escalation of hostilities.

The disputed region of Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, but is claimed in its entirety by both countries, leading to two wars over the territory.

"While in the stream he once again pointed his revolver at us and fearing that he may shoot directly at us, I threw a stone at him", he said.

Minutes earlier, the pilot said on Pakistani TV that he was "very impressed" by the Pakistan army.

There were, however, conflicting reports on whether he has already crossed over to India. He will be taken to New Delhi for a debriefing and a medical check-up.

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The two routes were among thousands disrupted this week as airlines cancelled or rerouted flights that pass through the heavily travelled India-Pakistan air corridor.

On Wednesday morning, Pakistan Air Force tried to intrude Indian airspace and while Indian Air Force chased them out taking down one of the PAF jets, PAF managed to strike one of the Indian fighter jets and now have the pilot Commander Abhinandan Varthaman in their custody.

Pakistan will handover the captured Indian pilot on Friday afternoon, its foreign minister told parliament.

The Wagah crossing gate is famed for hosting an elaborate daily ceremony by Indian and Pakistani soldiers at sundown.

India had requested Pakistan to bring Abhinandan via air and even reportedly was mulling to send a special aircraft to Pakistan but Islamabad had insisted on releasing him via Wagah border. Having attempted to evade capture, he is being portrayed as a hero in India.

The target was a camp run by the Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group, which claimed responsibility for the February 14 suicide vehicle bombing in Kashmir that killed 40 members of India's security forces.

Qureshi said he would not attend a meeting of foreign ministers from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Abu Dhabi this weekend, because his Indian counterpart had been invited to the event. "India will grow as one", he said, speaking in English, a rare occurrence.

Tensions have escalated between India and Pakistan in the wake of the Pulwama attack claimed by Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

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