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Saturday Mar 02 2019

Pakistan refutes Indian reports of pilot Abhinandan being released after a delay

Time between 8-9pm had been scheduled with Indian authorities for hand over of the pilot, say sources. Photo: File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has refuted allegations that Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was released after a delay, diplomatic sources said on Saturday.

Wing Commander Abhinandan was captured on Wednesday when his MiG-21 among two Indian military aircraft was shot down by Pakistan Air Force after they ventured into the Pakistani airspace. Rangers officials handed over the captured pilot to Indian officials at Wagah border crossing on Friday night.

Diplomatic sources said, "Indian media reports regarding a delay in handing over the captured pilot are based on lies."

"Indian pilot Abhinandan was not handed over to India after a delay," they added.

"A time between 8-9pm had been scheduled with Indian authorities for the hand over of the Indian pilot. This time had been scheduled on India's request," the sources further said.

"Indian media is running a propaganda campaign and spreading false news in this regard," the sources asserted.

Pakistan on Friday released the captured Indian pilot as a "gesture of peace" towards New Delhi and an effort to de-escalate tensions between the two countries.

The move to release the pilot was announced Thursday by Prime Minister Imran Khan at a joint session of Parliament, a day after Pakistan shot down two Indian aircraft that had crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and captured Wing Commander Abhinandan.