Live! IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman crosses border to enter India

Pakistan announced yesterday that it will free captured IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman as a peace gesture, hours after a strong message from India demanded his unconditional release, largely de-escalating tensions between the two neighbours.

Live Updates

9.22 pm: IAF Wing Commander #AbhinandanVarthaman crosses border to enter India

9.05 pm: Sources: Pakistan has changed the timing of handover of IAF’s Wing Commander #AbhinandanVarthaman twice. Indian defence minister is keeping a close watch on proceedings. The handover might now take place at 9 pm tonight.

4:37 pm: Visuals from Attari-Wagah border; Wing Commander #AbhinandanVarthaman to be received by a team of Indian Air Force.

4:25 pm: Pakistan: Visuals from Wagah in Lahore; IAF Wing Commander #AbhinandanVarthaman will soon be handed over to the Indian Air Force at Attari-Wagah border

3:00 pm: Union minister and former Army chief V K Singh on Friday said he was happy that Pakistan was releasing Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, but the neighbouring country needs to do a “lot more”. “A lot of things are done in line with the Geneva Convention. We are happy that he is being released. If they call it a gesture of peace, we are happy for that too, but they need to do a lot more,” he said.

2:36 pm: Punjab CM: Would love to go (to receive Wing Commander #AbhinandanVarthaman ) but there’s laid out protocol whenever anybody comes back like happened to Prisoners of war in ’65 ’71, they had to first go for medical then be debriefed. I think same process will be followed here.

2:20 pm: Deputy Commissioner Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon, Amritsar: The Beating the Retreat ceremony (at Attari-Wagah Border) will not be held today. Senior team of the Indian Air Force will receive Wing Commander #AbhinandanVarthaman.

12:42 pm: Deputy Commissioner Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon, Amritsar: Wing Commander #AbhinandanVarthaman will cross the border today, can’t tell you exact time since there are certain formalities. A senior Indian Air force team from Delhi is here, they will be the ones to receive him.

12:17 pm: Tamil Nadu: A special thanks giving prayer was organised today by state Home Guards at Kalikambal Temple in Chennai ahead of Wing Commander #AbhinandanVarthaman’s release by Pakistan.

11:45 am: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi: The Indian Pilot (#AbhinanadanVarthaman) will be released this afternoon via Wagah.

10:15 am: Punjab: People gather at Attari-Wagah border; Wing Commander AbhinandanVarthaman will be released by Pakistan today.

9:20 am: Visuals from the Attari-Wagah border as Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman is set to be released by Pakistan today.

The release of an Indian pilot by Pakistan would be a “very much welcomed step”, spokesperson for UN chief Antonio Guterres said Thursday, stressing that the message to India and Pakistan from the world body and the international community is to de-escalate tensions.

IAF Air Strike: Complete coverage

In a surprise announcement during a joint session of Parliament, Prime Minister Imran Khan said Thursday that captured Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will be released on Friday as a gesture of peace.
Pakistan detained Wing Commander Varthaman Wednesday following a fierce engagement between air forces of the two sides along the Line of Control when his MiG 21 fighter jet was downed.

The United States on Thursday welcomed Pakistan’s decision to release an captured Indian Air Force pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, in their custody. “We welcome Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s commitment that Pakistan will release on Friday the Indian pilot held in its custody,” a State Department spokesperson told PTI responding to a question on the announcement made by Khan in the Pakistani parliament.

Also Read: IAF pilot Abhinandan was shot in leg in PoK while swallowing documents, maps

Also Read: Despite being in captivity, he talked like a ‘true soldier’: IAF pilot Abhinandan’s father

(With PTI inputs)

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