As Peace Gesture Pakistan To Release Captured Indian Pilot But Modi Vows Morale-Boosting ‘Steps’

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Some observers think de-escalation may be in the works, while others say the blow hot and blow cold from India will continue till April when national elections will be held. PM Modi is vying for a second stint.

PKONWEB Report (New York/Islamabad) — Pakistan’s civil-military administration has decided to send back captured Indian pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan home through the Wagah border less than 48 hours of his captivity by the country’s armed forces near the Line of Control (LoC) in disputed Kashmir.

Prime Minister Imran Khan announced on Thursday that the Indian pilot will be released tomorrow (March 1) as peace gesture while calling for better sense to prevail.

The Pakistani premier made the announcement while addressing a joint session of the parliament today, where he briefed members of the Senate and National Assembly on the ongoing situation with arch-rival India. Pakistan’s desire for de-escalation should not be confused as weakness, he stated.

India’s Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh lauded Islamabad’s announcement of the Indian pilot’s release. “This is going to be a step towards goodwill and I hope this will be lasting,” he said.

International community specially UK, Iran, EU and USA have urged India and Pakistan to de-escalate tensions as fears grow of an all-out conflict. Major regional players have been talking to both countries’ movers and shakers as India on Wednesday shared documents with Pakistan on the Pulwama attack in the occupied valley.

US President Donald Trump on Thursday said there is “reasonably decent” news coming from India and Pakistan.

“We have I think reasonably attractive news from Pakistan and India,” said Trump at a news conference in Vietnam after a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“They have been going at it. We were involved in trying to have them stop. We have some reasonably decent news. I think hopefully that [conflict] is going to be coming to an end. It’s been going on for a long time.”

Earlier on Wednesday, a US White House National Security Council official had said that the risks of further military action by India and Pakistan are unacceptably high.

Some observers think de-escalation may be in the works, while others say the blow hot and blow cold from Indian side will continue till April when national elections will be held. PM Modi is vying for a second stint.

PM Modi as part of his early election campaign interacted with about one crore BJP workers in 15,000 locations via video conference today, according to the Times of India. “It is necessary to ensure that nothing is done to dent the morale of the security forces,” he said.

A defense official said on condition of anonymity that Pakistan expects the noise to continue till elections are held in India. “We were expecting it, and can defend as was demonstrated, but India must talk of peace not war.”

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told TASS news agency on Thursday that Moscow is ready to help mediate between Pakistan and India, Reuters reported.

“If they want this, then of course,” he replied to a question on the matter.

Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also said Moscow was ready to do anything it could to help.

“We are concerned about the escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan and the dangerous maneuvering of the two countries’ armed forces near ​​the Line of Control, which risks direct military clashes,” Zakharova told reporters.

Meanwhile, according to Reuters, India’s economy appeared to be losing momentum in the approach to a general election that must be held by May, as a Reuters survey of economists forecast that growth slipped to 6.9 percent annually in the October-December quarter.

If the forecast proves accurate, India will post its slowest growth in five quarters, making it harder for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to persuade voters that government policies were delivering economic success.

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