Announcement of release of IAF Wing Commander a ‘welcome step’: UN

New York: The United Nations on Friday called the announcement of a release of Indian Pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan by Pakistan a “welcome step”.

“The report of the release of the Indian pilot by the Pakistani authorities would be very much a welcome step,” Dawn quoted UN chief Antonio Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric as saying.

“We would encourage both parties to do whatever they can to de-escalate the situation and this is the message that has been passed on by the United Nations and, I think, by the international community as a whole,” the spokesperson added.

As a peace gesture, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday announced the release of the pilot. IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will be released on Friday.

Abhinandan, flying a MiG -21 Bison fighter plane, was chasing Pakistani jets which transgressed into Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday and crossed over to PoK where his aircraft was shot down. He was ejected safely and was taken to the custody by the Pakistani Army.

Tensions surged between India and Pakistan after the Indian Air Force on Tuesday carried out aerial strikes at a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror training camp in Balakot, in which a large number of terrorists were killed. The strikes were in response to the terror attack in Pulwama, in which about 40 CRPF personnel lost their lives.

On Wednesday, India said it foiled an attempt by Pakistan Air Force to carry out strikes in Jammu and Kashmir by shooting down an F-16 fighter plane while losing its own MiG-21 jet after which a pilot was “missing in action”.