Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Thursday that Pakistan is willing to consider returning Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman if it leads to de-escalation of tension and peace with India.
Speaking to Geo News, Qureshi said, “India handed over a dossier to the acting High Commissioner of Pakistan a day earlier and we will examine it. I will evaluate the dossier with an open heart and then see if talks will be held on that.”
“We are willing to return the captured Indian pilot if it leads to de-escalation and peace. We are ready for all positive engagement,” he added.
Qureshi said, “If Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is ready, Prime Minister Imran Khan is willing to talk to him.”
Wing Commander Varthaman was captured by the Pakistani Army after his MiG-21 Bison jet crashed on Pakistani soil. Pakistan-based newspaper Dawn claimed that a boy shot at the Indian pilot.
The Indian High Commission in Islamabad last evening gave a demarche to Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) for the immediate and safe return of the IAF pilot, sources said.
A similar demarche was given to Pakistan’s acting High Commissioner in New Delhi by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) earlier on Wednesday.
India on Tuesday undertook an air strike against a training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) in Pakistan based on credible evidence that JeM intended to launch more attacks.
After this counter-terrorism action, Pakistan responded on Wednesday morning by using its Air Force to target military installations on the Indian side.
However, due to the high state of readiness and alertness of the Indian Air Force (IAF), Pakistan’s attempts were foiled.
In that aerial engagement, one Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft was shot down by a MiG 21 Bison of the IAF. The Pakistani aircraft was seen by ground forces falling from the sky on the Pakistan side. India lost one MiG 21 which was piloted by Wing Commander Varthaman. Pakistan has claimed that he is in their custody.
“The decision of declaring Abhinandan a war prisoner will be taken after reviewing mutual and global agreements for war prisoners,” tweeted Dunya News from its official Twitter handle.
An MEA statement said on Wednesday, “India also strongly objected to Pakistan’s vulgar display of injured personnel of the Indian Air Force in violation of all norms of International Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Convention. It was made clear that Pakistan would be well advised to ensure that no harm comes to the Indian defence personnel in its custody. India also expects his immediate and safe return.”