Published: Sun, March 03, 2019
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visits Wing Commander Abhinandan at hospital

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visits Wing Commander Abhinandan at hospital

India's MiG-21 fighter upgraded by Russian Federation possesses combat capabilities identical to those of the F-16 of Pakistan's Air Force, the editor-in-chief of National Defense magazine, Igor Korotchenko, said about recent clashes involving these planes.

The official, Umar Azam, said Saturday that Pakistani troops are "befittingly" responding to the Indian fire.

Media reports said the return of Wing Cmdr Abhinandan Varthaman to India had been held up because the pilot was forced to make a video before his release.

In what appeared to be an edited statement aired on Pakistan TV, the wing commander described how he was shot down and rescued from an "agitated" crowd by Pakistani soldiers. "The Pakistani army is very professional and I am impressed by it", he said.

"Welcome Home Wing Commander Abhinandan", Mr Modi had written. Going forward, Indian officials said they would strike targets, including those inside Pakistani territory, if officials receive intelligence of planned attacks.

After a delay of over five hours, Varthaman stepped on the Indian soil through Wagah border, Amritsar in Punjab, on Friday night at 9.20 pm.

An official told reporters his first words were "it is good to be back in my country".

What led to this moment?

In another sign of a possible thaw, Pakistan's Railway Minister Shaikh Rasheed Ahmad announced train services between the two countries will resume on Monday.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Saturday Turkey is ready to do what is necessary to reduce the tensions between Pakistan and India, which have been running high since a suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir in mid-February followed by accusations, clashes on the border and downing of an Indian jet. New Delhi has accused Islamabad of harboring the Jaish-e Mohammad terror group that claimed responsibility for the attack. Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan has talked of peace and described freeing Abhinandan as a gesture of goodwill.

Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir since their independence from British rule in 1947. All but one were over Kashmir.

The closure of the Pakistan air space has caused cancellation of six worldwide flights to and from Delhi's Indira Gandhi global (IGI) airport, here on Saturday.

On Wednesday he pushed for talks with Delhi to prevent the risk of a "miscalculation" between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

Pakistani media praised the government for releasing the pilot.

But while the tension has eased to some degree, with many foreign nations including the US stepping in to urge calm and push for dialogue, the two long-time foes' military forces have continued to exchange fire, mostly shelling, along the disputed border in the Kashmir region.

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