Pak Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi admits Masood Azhar is in Pakistan

Pak Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi admits Masood Azhar is in Pakistan

Pak Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi admits Masood Azhar is in Pakistan

In a surprise announcement during a joint session of Parliament on Thursday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will be released on Friday as a gesture of peace. His return is expected to avert a risky confrontation that had raised fears of a wider conflict between the two countries.

People celebrate before the release of Indian Air Force pilot, who was captured by Pakistan on Wednesday, in a street in Ahmedabad, India, March 1, 2019.

Pakistan's Prime Minister and former cricketer Imran Khan announced yesterday the pilot, who is being hailed as a hero in India, would be returned as a "gesture of peace".

The growing began following a suicide vehicle bombing by Pakistan-based militants in Indian-controlled Kashmir which killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police on February 14.

Following his capture, videos of the IAF pilot were shared on social media by official Pakistani Twitter handle. The four cities where domestic and global flights will be allowed to and from are Karachi, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta, Pakistan's civil aviation authority said in the statement.

Masood Azhar is terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad's chief and is held responsible for taking out terror attacks against India.

Police have already arrested at least 400 leaders and activists, mainly from the Jama'at-e-Islami, which seeks self-determination for the Himalayan region, which is divided between India and Pakistan but claimed by both in its entirety.

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Authorities in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir closed all schools and educational institutions in the region and continue to urge parents to keep their children at home amid mounting tensions.

The closure of Pakistani airspace disrupted not just the country's own air transport but also flights worldwide as airlines were forced to cancel or reroute flights to other destinations that pass over Pakistan.

In her remarks at the gathering, Swaraj clearly criticized Pakistan, an OIC member.

India's foreign ministry later issued a statement demanding the release of its fighter pilot and condemning the images, describing them as a "vulgar display of an injured personnel".

Pakistan's military spokesman said that Pakistan fighter jets had carried out "strikes" - exactly what they did remains unclear - in Indian-administered Kashmir on Wednesday. They fought a third war in 1979 over East Pakistan, which gained independence with the help of India and became Bangladesh.

The suggestion came when Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale briefed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs about the latest developments that have taken place between India and Pakistan after the February 14 Pulwama terror attack by JeM in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

Khan also said that he had feared Wednesday night that India might launch a missile attack, but the situation was later defused. India said only one of its planes was lost, the MiG-21 flown by Varthaman, and Pakistan has not clarified the discrepancy. That year also saw an Indian fighter jet shoot down a Pakistani naval aircraft, killing all 16 on board.

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