Pakistan to release captured Indian pilot Friday as peace gesture: Imran

AFP . Islamabad | Update:

Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan attends talks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, 2 November, 2018. Photo: ReutersPakistan will release a captured Indian pilot on Friday, prime ,inister Imran Khan told a joint session of parliament Thursday, in an overture towards New Delhi after soaring tensions fuelled fears of conflict between the nuclear-armed rivals.

"As a peace gesture we are releasing the Indian pilot tomorrow," Khan said, a day after wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman was shot down in a rare aerial engagement between the South Asian neighbours over the disputed region of Kashmir.

According to Dawn newspaper report, a joint session of parliament was held on Thursday to discuss rising tension with India in the wake of the Pulwama attack and subsequent airstrikes by both countries.

"The only purpose of our strike was to demonstrate our capability and will," said prime minister Imran Khan while addressing the House. "We did not want to inflict any casualty on India as we wanted to act in a responsible manner."

Khan said he tried to call Indian PM Narendra Modi on the phone yesterday because "escalation is not in our interests nor in India's".

The premier, before opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif started his address, announced that the Indian pilot will be released tomorrow [Friday] as a peace gesture.

"In our desire for 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," PM Khan said.

The gesture was greeted with near unanimous support in the parliament.

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