Indian pilot not released under any pressure; Pakistan

Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was not freed by Pakistan due to any pressure or compulsion, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Saturday.

The Wing Commander was captured by Pakistan on February 27 after his MiG-21 crashed inside Pakistani territory. He was released on Friday night.

In an interview with BBC Urdu, Qureshi said: “There was no pressure on Pakistan to release him nor any compulsion. We wanted to convey to them (India) that we do not want to increase your sorrow, we do not want your citizens to be miserable, we want peace.

“Pakistan does not want the peace of the region to be risked over politics.”

The Minister reiterated that if evidence was shared against the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), then action will be taken.

The Pakistan-based terror group had claimed responsibility for the February 14 suicide bombing in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama that killed 40 CRPF troopers, raising tensions between India and Pakistan.

“Pakistan will not allow anti-state elements to risk the peace of the country or the region. We plan on taking action against extremist groups,” Qureshi said.

The Minister had admitted on Thursday that JeM chief Masood Azhar was in Pakistan and was “very unwell”.

Speaking on Saturday, Qureshi said: “The government will not allow any militia or militant organisation to use weapons or to spread terrorism through their use. If any group does this, then the government plans to take action against them.

“Pakistan does not want to go in the past… But if it goes in the past, then we will have to see how the attack on (Indian) Parliament, Pathankot airbase and Uri took place and that is a long story.”





Pakistan bowed before diplomatic pressure, ordered Abhinandan’s release within 24 hours

BJP President Amit Shah on Friday described Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman as a symbol of “bravery and valour” and said the diplomatic pressure by India forced Pakistan to order his release within 24 hours.

“Abhinandan’s safe return is a matter of immense pleasure. He is a symbol of bravery and valour. Pakistan bowed before the diplomatic pressure put by India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ordered his release within 24 hours,” he said in a statement.

Shah said the entire nation was proud of Abhinandan’s courage and valour.

“India is glad to have you back. May you continue to serve the nation and IAF with unparalleled passion and dedication. Best wishes for your bright future,” he said.

Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, captured by Pakistanis on February 27 after his MiG-21 crashed in the Pakistan-occupied territory, returned to India on Friday night.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced on Thursday that the IAF pilot would be released on Friday as a “gesture of peace”.





India, Saudi Arabia agree on need to exert pressure on countries backing terror

India and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday said that there was a need to exert “all possible pressure” on countries which extend any kind of support to terror activities.

Addressing the media after delegation-level talks with visiting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the “barbaric terror attack” in Pulwama was another manifestation of the danger posed by terrorism to humanity.

“We agree that to deal with it effectively, there is need to put all possible pressure on countries which are giving any kind of support to terrorism,” Modi said.

He said it was extremely necessary to destroy terror infrastructure and to punish terrorists and their supporters.

Modi said there was need for an action plan to deal with extremism so that the youths were not misguided by forces linked to terror and violence.

“I am happy that Saudi Arabia and India have common thoughts on this,” he said.

Prince Mohammed said in his remarks that his country was with India on the need to curb extremism and was willing to share intelligence for this purpose.

India, Saudi Arabia agree on need to exert pressure on countries backing terror