Willing To Consider IAF Pilot's Return If It Leads To 'De-Escalation':Pak

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan is willing to consider returning the captured IAF pilot if it leads to "de-escalation" of tensions with India, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Thursday.

His statement came a day after Pakistan detained Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman following a fierce engagement between air forces of the two sides along the Line of Control when his MiG 21 fighter jet was hit.

"Pakistan is willing to consider returning the Indian pilot if it leads to de-escalation," Qureshi said here.

In New Delhi, government sources said that India has not asked for consular access to the IAF pilot, and is insisting on his unconditional and immediate return.

Pakistan's Foreign Office (FO) said that the Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot was safe and sound.

"The armed forces rescued him from the mob that went after him after his plane crashed in Kashmir," the FO said.

The Express Tribune reported that Pakistan is yet to decide whether the IAF pilot will be declared a prisoner of war (PoW) and which convention will be applied.

"The decision (on the IAF pilot) will be announced in a day or two," the report said.

India Wednesday summoned the acting high commissioner of Pakistan and demanded immediate and safe return of the IAF pilot who was detained by Pakistan following an aerial engagement by air forces of the two countries.

It has also been made clear to Pakistan that no harm should be caused to the Indian defence personnel, the External Affairs Ministry said in New Delhi, adding that it has conveyed strong objection to the neighbouring country at the "vulgar display" of an injured personnel in violation of all norms of International Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Convention.

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