India cancels 'Beating Retreat' at Attari ahead of pilot's arrival

Kashmir: Pakistan readies to hand over Indian pilot

The pilot was whisked away in a convoy by Indian officials away from the public glare. New Delhi and Islamabad claimed that each other's planes had been shot down.

The Foreign Office of Pakistan said while in captivity, Abhinandan was treated "with dignity and in line with worldwide law". He has been released as per the standard operating procedures. This is mandatory because the officer had to eject from an aeroplane, which would have put his entire body under great stress. "We are happy to have him back", he said".

Hundreds of locals queued for hours to catch a glimpse of Varthaman as he crossed at the symbolic Wagah border crossing - the only legal crossing between the two countries. However, the request was rejected with Islamabad maintaining that he would be returned through the Attari-Wagah border.

Varthaman, sporting a black eye, was scheduled to receive another, more-detailed medical exam before taking a flight from nearby Amritsar to New Delhi for a debriefing about his captivity. They did not speak to the media and had requested privacy.

While Khan made the announcement on Thursday that Wing Commander Abhinandan would be released today, the wait for the return of the IAF pilot kept getting longer and did not happen till 8.50 pm.

"Let us hope this momentum created by the release of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman translates into something long-term in terms of securing peace", said Amitabh Mattoo, a professor of disarmament studies at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University. Varthaman's MiG 21 was shot and he bailed out after bringing down one Pakistani F-16 fighter during a dogfight to repel a Pakistani attack on Wednesday morning.

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He arrived in Lahore early in the day and held meetings with Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, some ministers and later chaired a meeting of the provincial cabinet at the chief minister's secretariat.

In her remarks at the gathering, Swaraj clearly criticized Pakistan, an OIC member. Having attempted to evade capture, he is being portrayed as a hero in India. She said that the world was seeing Indian war hysteria and honest efforts of Pakistan for maintaining peace in the region.

They fought a third war in 1979 over East Pakistan, which gained independence with the help of India and became Bangladesh.

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. India had also taken a tough stance, refusing to negotiate his release.

The decision to free the Indian pilot was announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday as a "peace gesture" towards India - a move welcomed by leaders around the world.

"Some of us did thrash him. because he had given us a tough time".

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