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News18 Daybreak | Pakistan to Return Captured IAF Pilot Abhinandan Varthaman Today and Other Stories You Need to Watch Out For

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Updated:March 1, 2019, 9:12 AM IST

What to Watch Out For

Pakistan to release captured IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman today as 'gesture of peace'

Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman will be returned to India today after being in Pakistan’s custody for two days. In an address to the parliament, Pakistan PM Imran Khan announced that they would release the Wing Commander as a gesture of peace.

"In our desire of peace, I announce that tomorrow, and as a first step to open negotiations, Pakistan will be releasing the Indian Air Force officer in our custody," Khan said on Thursday.

The Wing Commander had been detained by the Pakistani side on Wednesday following a fierce aerial engagement with India along the Line of Control. Abhinandan’s MiG-21 was shot down after he engaged Pakistani jets that had violated Indian airspace

Claims and counters: As hostilities between the two countries continue to peak, representatives of the Indian Air Force, Army and Navy in a joint press conference on Thursday showed evidence of the neighbouring country’s air force using F16 planes to target “military installations” near the LoC.

Pakistan had earlier claimed that F-16 jets were not a part of the operation—as any such admission would mean a violation of the sale conditions laid down by the US during the procurement of the F-16s.

However, in the press conference, the Indian Air force presented evidence of the use of Amraam missile, which can only be mounted on F-16. Displaying the wreckage of the missile as a proof, Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor said that “there is enough evidence to show that F-16s were used in this mission and Pakistan is trying to hide this fact.”

This was the first official briefing by the Indian defence establishments since the hostilities broke out between the two countries.

Global pressures mount: The announcement of the release came just hours after US President Donald Trump said he received “reasonably decent” news from India and Pakistan, hinting that Washington’s behind the scenes mediation efforts had worked.

"They have been going at it and we have been involved in trying to have them stop," Trump said on Thursday. "We have been in the middle trying to help them both out."

Meanwhile, Russia also gave their two pence on the unfolding situation, with President Vladimir Putin calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday to express his deep condolences over the Pulwama terrorist attack. Putin also conveyed the solidarity of his country with New Delhi in its fight against terror.

Modi thanked Putin for Russia's steadfast support for India's efforts to protect its interests against cross-border terror attacks, a statement from the Prime Minister's Office said.

What next: The two rival sides might lock horns again, this time in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation meet today which External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is slated to attend. After initial statements of boycotting, Pak Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi confirmed that he will be attending the meeting too.

It also remains to be seen how the Wing Commander’s return, which is likely to take place today afternoon, will be facilitated. Although a delegation of IAF team will on Friday receive Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, it is not clear whether Varthaman will be handed over to the International Red Cross or to the Indian authorities by Pakistan.

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, who is touring border areas of his state, on Thursday had expressed his desire to go and receive the pilot. “It will be an honour for me to go and receive him, as he and his father are alumni of the NDA as I am (sic)," tweeted Amarinder. The Centre is yet to respond to the Singh’s request offer.

What You May Have Missed

Cabinet gives nod to bring in ordinance for SC, ST quota in J&K by amending Article 370

The Union cabinet on Thursday gave its nod to the promulgation of an ordinance for giving reservation benefits to SCs and STs in Jammu and Kashmir by amending a clause of the contentious Article 370, which gives special status to the state. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said. In a second move, the Union Cabinet also decided to promulgate an ordinance -- The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 -- to give reservation benefits to the people living along the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir.


Days after crackdown on its members, govt imposes ban on Jamaat-e-Islami

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Thursday banned separatist group, Jammu and Kashmir’s Jamaat-e-Islami, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for alleged anti-national and subversive activities, officials said. A notification on the ban was issued by the MHA after a high-level meeting on security, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The move comes only days after over 150 Jamaat leaders, including its chief, were arrested in nocturnal raids across Kashmir.

Cabinet approves Aadhaar ordinance to allow its use as ID Proof for Bank accounts, SIM connection

The Cabinet on Thursday approved the promulgation of an Ordinance to allow voluntary use of Aadhaar as identity proof for opening bank account and procuring mobile phone connection. The Ordinance was necessitated as a bill, passed by the Lok Sabha on January 4 but pending in the Rajya Sabha, would have lapsed with the dissolution of the current Lok Sabha. The Ordinance will now give the effect to the changes in the Aadhaar Act such as giving a child an option to exit from the biometric ID programme on attaining 18 years of age.

Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal steps down as Chairman of airline's board, as per sources

Jet Airways' founder Naresh Goyal has agreed to step down as chairman of the airline's board, a source said on Thursday, as the cash-strapped Indian carrier inches closer to securing a rescue deal. Saddled with a billion dollars in debt, Jet has defaulted on loans and has not paid pilots, leasing firms and suppliers for months. The source also said that Eithad, which owns a 24 per cent stake in Jet Airways, is reticent to provide interim funding of about 7 billion rupees ($99 million) to Jet Airways.

On Reel

The latest round of tensions between India and Pakistan has brought the two nuclear-armed nations closer towards a full-blown conflict. News18.com's Bhupendra Chaubey explains why war should not an option and dialogue must always be sought in these times.

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