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News18 Daybreak | IAF Pilot Remains Under Pakistan Custody Day After India-Pak Aerial Engagement and Other Stories You Need to Watch Out For

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Updated:February 28, 2019, 8:25 AM IST
News18 Daybreak | IAF Pilot Remains Under Pakistan Custody Day After India-Pak Aerial Engagement and Other Stories You Need to Watch Out For
MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar and Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor at a press briefing on Wednesday.

What to Watch Out For

Forces beef up security following meeting with PM Modi as IAF pilot remains under Pakistan custody

The Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Indian Navy forces have beefed up security at various places following Wednesday’s high-level security meeting between PM Modi, the National Security Advisor, service chiefs and the intelligence top boss over the emerging situation with Pakistan.

The two countries had engaged in an aerial battle on Wednesday morning, in a major escalation of hostilities.

India shot down a Pakistani F-16 jet that violated the Indian air space in retaliatory fire 3km within Pakistan territory in Lam valley, Nowshera sector. Pakistan had also claimed to have entered the Indian airspace and dropped bombs.

Following the aerial engagement news surfaced of an IAF pilot being held under Pakistani custody.

‘Missing in Action’: MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar in a press conference confirmed that an IAF pilot was “missing in action” and said that the Wing Commander’s MiG-21 was shot down after he engaged Pakistani jets that violated Indian airspace. Kumar added saying that the government was still ascertaining the Pakistan claim that they had him in his custody.

Earlier on Wednesday, military spokesperson, Major General Asif Ghafoor had claimed that they had arrested two pilots, one of who was receiving treatment in a hospital.

"[The] PAF (Pakistani Air Force) shot down two Indian aircraft inside Pakistani airspace. One of the aircraft fell inside AJ&K [Azad Jammu and Kashmir] while [the] other fell inside LoK [Indian occupied Kashmir]. One Indian pilot arrested by troops on the ground while two in the area."

The Pakistani side also released a photo of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. Following the presser, Pakistan retracted their statement and said that “only one” Indian pilot were in its custody.

“There is only one pilot under Pakistan Army’s custody. Wing Comd Abhi Nandan is being treated as per norms of military ethics,” Ghafoor tweeted.

Read: India Acknowledges IAF Pilot Abhinandan Varthaman in Pak Custody, Demands Safe and Immediate Return

The defence: The Pakistan PM Imran Khan in a televised speech following the day’s events said, "I ask India: with the weapons you have and the weapons we have, can we really afford such a miscalculation? If this escalates, things will no longer be in my control or in Modi's".

"I once again invite you: we are ready. We understand the grief India has suffered in Pulwama and are ready for any sort of dialogue on terrorism. I reiterate that better sense should prevail. Let's sit together and settle this with talks," the prime minister concluded.

The Prime Minister was referring to the terror attack by the Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama which claimed the lives of 40 CRPF personnel.

Days after the attack on Tuesday morning, India carried out an aerial bombing at the biggest Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp in Pakistan.

Read: How Can India Bring Back IAF Pilot Captured by Pak and Will the Geneva Convention Help?

In criticism: India has issued a demarche to the acting high commissioner of Pakistan saying that it expects the immediate and safe return of Commander Abhinandan. The government also strongly objected to “Pakistan’s vulgar display” of the injured pilot in violation of all norms of International Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Convention.

India also handed over a dossier to Pakistan with the specific details of Jaish’s complicity in the Pulwama terror attack and expressed regret at Pakistan’s continuing denial on the presence of terror infrastructure on its soil.

The MEA summoned the Pakistan acting High Commissioner to lodge a strong protest over the country’s aggression against India.

Read: India Hands Over Dossier Detailing Jaish Role in Pulwama Attack; Will Imran Khan Walk the Talk?

An offer: In the face of serious cross-border tension between India and Pakistan, Russia, in a statement released on Wednesday, has offered to mediate between New Delhi and Islamabad.

“We are ready to further assist in strengthening the counter-terrorism potential of New Delhi and Islamabad,” read the statement.

Russia also expressed serious concerns about the aggravation of the situation along the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan and the outbreak of tensions between “friendly states.”

Read: Russia Offers to Mediate Between India and Pakistan Amid Escalating Tensions Between Neighbours

He said she said: Opposition parties hit out at the BJP and accused the BJP government of "blatant politicisation of the sacrifice".

"National security must transcend narrow political considerations. The leader observed that the Prime Minister has regrettably not convened an-all party meeting as the established practice in our democracy," the statement issued by 21 opposition parties read.

Meanwhile, several of the party leaders expressed their concern over the missing pilot. "I'm sorry to hear that one of our brave IAF pilots is missing. I hope he will return home soon, unharmed. We stand by our armed forces in these difficult times," Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said.

DMK leader M K Stalin also urged the Centre "to do everything necessary to get him safely back home (to Tamil Nadu) at the earliest".

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah also reiterated that Pakistan should treat the pilot "as you would have us treat one of your men in uniform should he be unfortunate enough to be captured on this side of the border", while AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi said Islamabad must respect its obligations under the Geneva Conventions and treat him humanely.

Read: Regrettable PM Did Not Call All-Party Meet: 21 Oppn Parties Express Concern Over India-Pak Situation

The world's abuzz: Amid rising tensions between the nuclear-armed nations, there has been a call from many on both sides to treat the pilot, on whom a purported video has been released by Pakistan, “with dignity.”

Citizens of both India and Pakistan have taken to Twitter to very literally, #SayNoToWar

Even former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s niece, Fatima Bhutto, took to Twitter praying that the pilot be treated with respect.

“Please note there are many Pakistani voices calling for the Indian airforce pilot in custody to be treated with dignity. I pray that this decency prevails and am proud to see it expressed openly and without fear. We who do not want war must insist on dignity and decency and peace for all men.”

Read: 'Treat Him With Dignity': Twitter Erupts Across The Border After Pakistan Releases Video Of Indian Pilot

On Reel

As an IAF pilot remains under the custody of Pakistan, here's a lowdown of what led to the escalation of tensions between the two countries.

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