Srinagar: India wanted to send a special flight to bring back captured Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Abhinandan Varthaman from Pakistan, but the country denied permission. Pakistan has announced that the pilot, captured on Wednesday by the Pakistani Army after he was shot down following an air combat with a Pakistani Air Force, will be released through Wagah later today, NDTV reported
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s release was announced by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan yesterday.
There were two options – by road through Wagah or on a flight from Islamabad. India, sources told NDTV, did not want Abhinandan Varthaman to return to media frenzy at Wagah, especially in the afternoon, when the flag-lowering ceremony draws large crowds.
Pakistan has told the joint session of its parliament that Wing Commander Varthaman will be released through the Wagah border. An Indian official confirmed it, but was uncertain about the time.
“We do not have actual time schedule given to us. We are expecting his arrival today… Right now we don’t know his exact location,” said Shivdular Singh Dhillon, Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar.
Sources say India wanted to bring him back to Delhi in a special IAF flight and take him away for a debriefing and medical check-up. India had even handed over a list of officers who would accompany the pilot. The government, say sources, did not want the pilot to be accosted by reporters.
Abhinandan Varthaman’s release marked a pull-back from the brink after India and Pakistan engaged in an aerial encounter on Wednesday for the first time in nearly 50 years.