Pakistan has returned an Indian pilot who had become the face of the worst military crisis between the two countries in decades, in a gesture aimed at demonstrating its willingness to de-escalate the conflict, reported the Guardian.
Wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was shot down during the first publicly acknowledged dogfight between the countries in 48 years on Wednesday, was returned to India at the Wagah border crossing in Punjab on Friday evening.
Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, had announced his impending release in parliament on Thursday, calling it a “peace gesture”.
The pilot’s homecoming sparked jubilation in India. Large crowds gathered near the border post cheering, dancing and waving Indian flags in scenes broadcast live on major TV news channels, who counted down the hours to Varthaman’s return throughout the afternoon and evening. A Bollywood filmmaker has already applied to copyright the movie title Abhinandan.
(Cover image: Reuters/PTV via Reuters TV)
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