British PM May lauds PM Imran's act of releasing Indian pilot

Dunya News

PM Imran apprised the British PM of Pakistans perspective on developments since Pulwama incident.

ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday had a telephone conversation with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

During the telephonic conversation, PM Imran Khan apprised the British prime minister of Pakistan’s perspective on the developments since the Pulwama incident.

On the occasion, Theresa May welcomed Imran Khan’s decision of releasing the Indian pilot, which has been widely appreciated by the international community.

She mentioned the need for both India and Pakistan to de-escalate and said that her country is in touch with both sides in this regard.

PM Imran Khan invited UK Prime Minister for a visit to Pakistan. May reciprocated the invitation.

Captured pilot handed over to India

The pilot shot down in a dogfight with Pakistani aircraft returned to India on Friday, after being freed in what Islamabad called a "peace gesture" following the two countries’ biggest standoff in years.

Wing Commander Abhinandan, downed on Wednesday over Azad Kashmir, crossed into India at the Wagah crossing point, hours later than expected.

Matters escalated alarmingly after a massive suicide bombing killed 40 Indian troops on February 14. Twelve days later Indian warplanes launched a strike inside Pakistani territory, claiming to have hit a militant camp. An infuriated Islamabad denied casualties or damage, but a day later launched its own incursion across the LoC.

That sparked the dogfight which ended as Pakistan shot Indian aircrafts and captured Abhinandan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan unexpectedly announced Thursday that he would be released in the first sign of a potential thaw.

Khan alluded to the catastrophic consequences of nuclear war and called for talks -- even as he warned India should not take the announcement as a sign of weakness.

Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi meanwhile said he was boycotting a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held in Abu Dhabi, as India had been invited.

The tensions prompted Pakistan to close down its airspace, disrupting major routes between Europe and South Asia and grounding thousands of travellers worldwide.

Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said Friday that flights could land and depart from its main airports from 1300 GMT, and that others would be opened "gradually".

Videotaped statement of IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan

On Friday, a new videotaped statement of uniformed Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was broadcasted in which he gave an account of the events that unfolded after he entered the Pakistani airspace.

"My name is Wing Commander Abhinandan. I am a fighter pilot in Indian Air Force. I was trying to find a target. Pakistan Air Force shot my aircraft down following which I have to leave it as it had broken down. I later ejected and opened parachute," he said.

"I then fell on the ground. I had a pistol with me. There were several people and I had only one option for my defence. Therefore; I dropped my weapon and ran," told the pilot.

"I tried to escape and people followed me. They were in high spirits and enthusiastic. Two army personnel arrive in the meantime and saved me from the public. A Captain of Pakistan Army also came and rescued me. He did not let any harm come to me," he elaborated.

"They then took me to their unit where I was administered first aid and then I was taken to the hospital where I further underwent a medical exam and received more aid," he says.

"Pakistan Army is a very professional service and I see peace in it. I have spent time with the Pakistani Army and I am very impressed by them," apprised Abhinandan.

The Indian Pilot confessed that Indian media’s ranting always misleads Indian public opinion about Pakistan and it presents trivial things as huge.

"Indian media always exaggerate the situation. The smallest things are overstated, misguiding the people," he asserted.

In a previous video, Abhinandan expressed gratitude to the Pakistan Army for their good conduct and hospitality shown to him.