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IAF pilot likely to return via Wagah-Attari on Friday, Amarinder offers to receive


IANS Chandigarh
Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Abhinandan Varthaman is likely to be released by Pakistani authorities on Friday and brought back home through the Wagah-Attari joint check-post.
Official sources said that the Border Security Force (BSF) has not been communicated the exact time and sequence regarding the release of the captured IAF pilot.
The sources said that the pilot is likely to be brought by Pakistani authorities from Rawalpindi to Lahore and handed over first to the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) under rules of the Geneva Convention before being brought to the JCP between 12 noon and 2 p.m. to return home.
Varthaman will be debriefed by defence and security officials after his return.
The 35-year-old Wing Commander was captured on Wednesday by Pakistan after his MiG-21 Bison fighter jet was hit during an dog-fight with Pakistan Air Force jets near the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced on Thursday that the captured IAF pilot will be freed as a "goodwill gesture" on Friday after New Delhi sought his unconditional, immediate and unharmed release.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday expressed his desire to receive the IAF pilot after he is freed on Friday.
"Dear @narendramodi ji, I'm touring the border areas of Punjab & I'm presently in Amritsar. Came to know that @pid_gov has decided to release #AbhinandanVartaman from Wagha. It will be an honour for me to go and receive him, as he and his father are alumnus of the NDA as I am," he said in a tweet.
Amarinder Singh had earlier welcomed Imran Khan's announcement as "a goodwill gesture that would help ease the prevailing tensions at the border".
The Chief Minister is presently touring the villages near the border with Pakistan. He has also extended all support on behalf of his government to the Border Security Force (BSF) to deal with the current situation in the aftermath of the IAF air strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp at Balakot in Pakistan in the wee hours of Tuesday.

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First Published: Feb 28 2019 | 10:56 PM IST

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