India wanted to bring back IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman in special aircraft, Pak denied request

New Delhi: Hours after India conveyed to Islamabad that it wants to bring back Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Abhinandan Varthaman via aerial route, Pakistan denied its request and said that he will be returned through the Attari-Wagah border.

The Indian defence establishment was also mulling over sending a special aircraft to Pakistan to bring back Wing Commander Varthaman who was captured by Pakistan during an aerial combat on Wednesday. On Thursday, Pakistan PM Imran Khan announced that Varthaman will be released on Friday as a ‘peace gesture’.

Varthaman will now return home through the Wagah border, which is around 25 km from Lahore in Pakistan.

The IAF pilot’s MiG 21 was shot and he bailed out after bringing down one Pakistani F-16 fighter during a dogfight to repel a Pakistani attack on Wednesday morning.

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after Indian fighters bombed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed’s biggest training camp near Balakot deep inside Pakistan early Tuesday.

It came 12 days after 40 CRPF personnel were killed when a Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying over 100 kg of explosives into their bus in Pulwama distrit of Jammu and Kashmir on February 14.

Following the bombing of the JeM training camp, the Pakistan Air Force carried out a retaliatory aerial combat, unsuccessfully targeting several Indian military installations.

(With PTI inputs)