Extending the olive branch to India, amid escalating tensions, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan today announced that captured Indian pilot will be released back to India tomorrow. The Pak PM made the announcement during his parliamentary address in Islamabad. As a peace gesture, we are releasing Wing Commander tomorrow., Imran Khan told his Parliament.
Indo-Pak tension Highlights of day's developments:
10:53 pm: Russian President Putin speaks to PM Modi
Russian President Vladimir Putin called Prime Minister Narendra Modi on phone today to express his deep condolences on the Pulwama terrorist attack. He also conveyed solidarity of the people of the Russian Federation with the people of India in the fight against terrorism.
The Prime Minister thanked President Putin for Russia’s steadfast support for India’s efforts to protect its interests against cross-border terror attacks, and renewed India’s commitment to strengthening bilateral cooperation in countering terrorism as a pillar of privileged and special strategic partnership. Both leaders agreed that the concerned should stop all support to terrorism.
10:30 pm: Under section 3 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, Central Government declares the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), Jammu and Kashmir as an "unlawful association".
10:15 pm: Govt asks Youtube to pull down Abhinandan's videos released by Pak
The Indian government on Thursday asked YouTube to pull down videos which showed IAF pilot Abhinandan in Pak custody. "We had received complaints...yesterday an unfortunate instance had come up where humiliating videos of the Wing Commander (Abhinandan) had been uploaded on YouTube from Pakistan side. We had sent a notice to YouTube and complying with the same they took down 11 such videos," Union IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told media at press briefing the cabinet meeting in New Delhi.
He added: In the light of the situation prevailing in the country today we expect the social media platforms to ensure that they should not allow their platform to be abused by content which is designed to weaken the morale of the country.
10:00 pm: Govt ammends 10 per cent reservation quota in J&K
Union Cabinet today approved the Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) Amendment Order, 2019. Once notified, this will pave the way for giving the benefit of promotion in service to the SCs, STs and also extend the reservation of upto 10 per cent for economically weaker sections in educational institutions & public employment in addition to the existing reservation in Jammu & Kashmir.
The cabinet also decided to approve the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019, which once issued, would pave the way for bringing persons residing in the areas adjoining International Border within the ambit of reservation at par with persons living in areas adjoining Actual Line of Control.
08:52 pm: Punjab CM and Congress leader Capt Amarinder Singh expresses wish to welcome Abhinandan at Wagah border tomorrow
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 a honour for me to go and receive him, as he and his father are alumnus of the NDA as I am.: Capt Amarinder Singh said in a tweet
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 a honour for me to go and receive him, as he and his father are alumnus of the NDA as I am.— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) February 28, 2019
08:27 pm: Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohamed bin Zayed made telephone calls to Indian and Pakistani prime ministers, stresses the importance of dealing wisely with recent developments and giving priority to dialogue and communication
07:54 pm: Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Arun Jaitley to address press conference at 9pm.
07:40 pm: CCS meeting has concluded at PM residence. The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, three defence service chiefs and NSA Ajit Doval along with PM Modi.
07:27 pm: We have evidence to show that whatever we wanted to do and targets we wanted to destroy, we have done that. The decision to show the evidence is on senior leadership: Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor
07:25 pm: Defence officials display proof of shooting down Pakistan's F-16 fighter jet in front of the world media in New Delhi, display cover of AARAM missile, which can only be mounted and fired from a F-16 fighter jet. The missile debris proofs that Pakistan lied about not using the US-made jet with intention to attack Indian military installations.
07:24 pm: Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor to question on bombing on JeM terror camps in Balakot: Premature to say number of casualties on the camp, whatever we intended to destroy we got that result
07:23 pm: Pak gesture to release Wing Commander Abhinandan in consonance with Geneva Convention, says IAF.
07:21 pm: There is enough evidence to show that F-16s were used in this mission through their electronic signatures. Parts of AMRAAM, air to air missile which is carried only on the Pakistani F-16s was recovered east of Rajouri within the Indian territory: Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor
07:21 pm: India has conclusive evidence that Pakistan used F-16 to target India's military targets and was shot down. We have recovered debris which belongs to crashed F-16.
07:20 pm: As long as Pakistan continues to harbour terrorists, we will continue to target the terror camps: Major General Surendra Singh Mahal
07:15 pm: Indian Navy statement:
We are ready for any misadventure by Pakistan and we are ready for resolute action. We want to ensure safety and security of our citizens: Navy Rear Admiral DS Gujral
07:12 pm: Indian Army statement:
#Pakistan Air Force targeted multiple defence installations but we sent them back: Major General Surendra Singh Mahal
#We are fully prepared to respond to any provocation by Pakistan. Indian army committed to maintain peace, stability in region; Major General Surendra Singh Mahal
07:10 pm: Indian Air Force statement:
#IAF is happy and looks forward to return of Wing Commander #Abhinandan tomorrow: Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor
#Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor: IAF fighters were tasked to intercept the intruding Pakistani aircraft and managed to thwart them. Although PAF jets dropped bombs, they were not able to cause any damage.
#There is enough evidence to show F-16s were used: Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor
06:52 pm: Defence statement to begin in a while. Major General Surendra Singh Mahal (Army), Rear Admiral DS Gujral (Navy) , Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor (Air Force) to brief: Sources
New Delhi: Joint press briefing by Army, Navy and Air Force to begin shortly at South Block pic.twitter.com/BDnLqWXce2— ANI (@ANI) February 28, 2019
06:50 pm: CCS meeting on security strategy to begins at PM residence.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, three defence services chief and NSA Ajit Doval reach 7 Lok Manya Tilak. They are holding a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
06:40 pm: Pak rail minister admits '14 Indian fighter jets caused destruction to Azhar sahab's madrasa'
Ina major development, Pakistan's railway minister Sheikh Rashid admitted that '14 Indian fighter jets' had entered Pakistan's air space and caused destruction to madrasa's run by Azhar Sahab (JeM chief Masood Azhar). The minister was addressing the joint session of Pakistani parliament. Earlier, Pakistan had dismissed India's claims about a successful IAF raid on JeM terror camp in Balakot on February 26. India had claimed that a very large number of terrorists were killed in the strike, whereas Pakistan had claimed that only one person was injured as Indian planes dropped payload by mistake while being dragged back to their territory by Pakistani jets. (Read full story)
06:38 pm: India suspends Samjhauta Express on its end, lack of occupancy behind decision
The Railways has decided to suspend operations of the Indo-Pak Samjhauta Express on its side due to a drastic decline in occupancy especially after the Pulwama terror attack, sources said. The Railway Board has decided to cancel all operations from the train's next scheduled run. Pakistan has already suspended services on its end, officials said here, amidst strain in ties in the aftermath of the February 14 terror attack on CRPF personnel in Pulwama and subsequent developments.
06:08 pm: Group Captain JD Kurian air attache to Pakistan will be walking back through the Wagha Border with Wing Commander Abhinandan tomorrow afternoon: Sources
05:27 pm: Union Cabinet likely to discuss Pakistan: Sources
A proposal to deal with Pakistan, if it fails to act against terrorism, is expected to be presented in the Union Cabinet meeting to be held in the evening. The meeting may also see discussion on how to answer Pakistan fight jets' intrusion into the Indian air space, sources told India TV.
05:24 pm: Watching Indo-Pak tensions closely: Chinese military
China's military today said it was "closely watching" the escalating tensions between India and Pakistan and called for restraint by both the neighbours. Terming India and Pakistan as "friends of China", it also said both the countries should resolve the issue through dialogue and properly handle the differences to prevent further escalation of tensions.
Asked whether the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has increased the presence of its troops in the borders in view of the tensions, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman, Senior Col Ren Guochang said "both India and Pakistan are friends of China. We believe that top priority is to exercise restraint and to resolve the issue through dialogue and coordination so as to prevent any escalation of tensions."
05:15 pm: Joint press briefing by Army, Navy and Air Force in New Delhi that was scheduled for 5 pm today has been postponed to 7 pm.
05:05 pm: PM Modi addressing a ceremony in Vigyan Bhawan, first address by major announcement by Imran Khan
04:35 pm: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has made the much-awaited announcement today. He has said that captured IAF pilot will be released back to India tomorrow. As a peace gesture, we are releasing Wing Commander tomorrow., Imran Khan told his Parliament.
Earlier, United States President Donald Trump had hinted that some good news could be expected soon after he had tried to broker peace between the two sides. It is not immediately clear if this was the news he was hinting at or some other good news is also in offing.
04:36 pm: Ceasefire violated by Pak
Pakistan violates ceasefire by shelling with mortars and firing of small arms in Sunderbani, Mankote, Khari Karmara and Degwar sectors today. Shelling and firing which started at 6 am paused, and resumed at 3 pm.
04:25 pm: If Indian pilot is freed, then grab Imran's olive branch: Raj Thackeray
If Pakistan frees the captured IAF pilot and orders a ceasefire, then Prime Minister Narendra Modi should grab his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan's offer for talks, MNS President Raj Thackeray said on Thursday. "If Pakistan is really sincere in their offer of constructive talks, then the first step in this direction must come from them. They have to release our pilot immediately and call for ceasefire," the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief said. "If this can be achieved, then we can believe that Imran Khan's intentions are noble. If all this takes place, then Modi should not let this opportunity pass by," he said.
04:10 pm: Opposition continues to express angst against PM Modi's address to BJP workers
At a presser in New Delhi, Congress leader Manish Tewari said that at a point in time when the nation is looking towards its leadership, when the nation wants its leadership to speak to it, the Prime Minister chose to address the booth workers of the BJP rather than address the nation.
"There is a time to act and a time to talk, dialogue can only take place when the atmosphere is conducive for it, current atmosphere is not conducive," he said while claiming that Navjot Singh Sidhu's opinion was not the opinion of the Congress.
04:00 pm: Foreign Secretary brief diplomats of 10 countries in New Delhi
Meeting of Foreign Secy with diplomats from 10 countries, including Germany, Dominican Republic, Nigeria, South Africa and Belgium, has concluded. The Foreign Secretary briefed them on updates in situation between India and Pakistan.
03:30 pm: Pak willing to consider returning IAF pilot if it leads to 'de-escalation': Qureshi
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 on Thursday. "Pakistan is willing to consider returning the Indian pilot if it leads to de-escalation," Qureshi said in Islamabad. 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.
02:30 pm: Have not asked for consular access to IAF pilot, want him back immediately: India
Government sources in New Delhi 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. (Read full story)
01:50 pm: We believe that the Pakistan air intrusion was an attack on military installations. We believe that the Indian Air Force Pilot was ill treated by the Pakistan Army in violation of the Geneva convention: Defence Ministry Officials
01:40 pm: Pakistan violated ceasefire at 1 pm today along the Line of Control in Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch district. Indian Army retaliated effectively
01:14 pm: There will be a joint press briefing by Army, Navy and Air Force in New Delhi at 5 pm today: Sources
01:06 pm: I think reasonably attractive news from Pakistan and India, they have been going at it and we have been involved and have them stop, we have some reasonably decent news, hopefully its going to be coming to an end, going on for a long time, decades and decades: US President Donald Trump
12:56 pm: Germany stands with India, asks immediate release of IAF pilot
11:39 am: Pakistan may spin a lie around F-16 aircraft. The country may try to establish it as JF-17. The US had given the aircraft to the Pak on condition of using it against terrorism only: Sources
11:17 am: The three service chiefs to meet Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman shortly: Sources
File picture of cross section of F16 engine and wreckage of downed Pakistani F16 jet pic.twitter.com/Mq78QkLTz9— ANI (@ANI) February 28, 2019
10:45 am: Concerned about deteriorating situation in Kashmir. Strongly condemn terrorist attack on 14Feb for which Islamic extremist group “Jaish-e-Mohammad” claimed responsibility; urge Pakistan to take stronger measures to counter terrorism. In response to the mounting tension due to the operations since 26 February between the Indian Air Force and the Pakistan Air Force, Japan strongly urges India and Pakistan to exercise restraint and stabilize the situation through dialogue: Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Same picture circulating on social media claim this is an Indian MiG fighter, however multiple IAF sources confirm this is the wreckage of Pakistani F16 downed yesterday https://t.co/C7t5lYtP51— ANI (@ANI) February 28, 2019
This is the wreckage of the downed Pakistani F16 from yesterday’s failed PAF raid https://t.co/wCQNlfV5V0— ANI (@ANI) February 28, 2019
Sources: Picture of portion of downed Pakistani Air Force jet, wreckage was in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Also seen in pic, Commanding Officer of Pakistan’s 7 Northern Light Infantry pic.twitter.com/sCbzmtqjgB— ANI (@ANI) February 28, 2019
10:05 am: IAF pilot may be released soon: Sources
9:50 am: Indian High Commission in Pakistan last evening gave a demarche to Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the immediate and safe return of the Wing Commander. Similar Demarche was given to Pakistan's acting High Commissioner in New Delhi yesterday: Sources
9:17 am: NSA Ajit Doval and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had a telephonic conversation late last night. Pompeo said that the US supported India’s decision to take action against JeM terror camp on Pakistani soil: Sources
9:15 am: Pak suspends Samjhota Express service: Reports
9:03 am: Release of IAF pilot possible only when situation is peaceful. He is totally safe: Shah Mehmood Qureshi
Jammu and Kashmir: Visuals of security from Manjakote sector of Rajouri District pic.twitter.com/2ZJWuR9p1b— ANI (@ANI) February 28, 2019
8:35 am: Ceasefire violation by Pakistan this morning in Krishna Ghati sector along the Line of Control in Poonch district. Pakistan violated ceasefire at 6 am today in Krishna Ghati sector along the Line of Control in Poonch district. Indian Army retaliated effectively. Firing stopped around 7 am.
8:32 am: Cross-border terrorism,such as recent attack on India’s CRPF, poses grave threat to security of the area.We reiterate our call for Pakistan to abide by its United Nations Security Council commitments to deny terrorists safe haven & block their access to funds: US State department
8:30 am: US calls on India & Pakistan to cease all cross-border military activity&for a return to stability. Urge both sides to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation,including direct communication. Further military activity will exacerbate situation: US State department
7:40 am: We, as Air Indians take pride and feel duty bound towards national interest and pledge our support to the Nation and as pilots we consider ourselves as the second line of defense after the armed forces to serve our country: ICPA
Indian Commercial Pilots Association: ICPA being a patriotic and responsible union would like to extend complete support and co-operation in all operations as the situation demands. We will support the government and the PMO in this fight against terrorism. pic.twitter.com/91SrDXuyi8— ANI (@ANI) February 28, 2019
On Wednesday, Commercial flight services were affected at the Amritsar and Chandigarh airports. However, authorities said that normal flight operations had been resumed and will continue normally on Thursday. Commercial flight operations were suspended on Wednesday from the Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport in Amritsar amid rising tensions between India and Pakistan.
Commercial flights resumed services at all the Indian airports where they were suspended earlier in the day on Wednesday, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said. Over 15 flights to and from Amritsar airport were cancelled, delayed or diverted. Passengers who were in the Amritsar airport terminal to catch flights for various destinations were asked to leave the building. Personnel from the Army, Indian Air Force (IAF) and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) took control of the airport complex.
At the Chandigarh International Airport, which is under the command of the IAF, at least 10 flights were cancelled on Wednesday.
The cancelled flights included Indigo Airlines (five flights), Jet Airways (three), Go Air (one) and Air India (one).
"Today, Chandigarh airport was open for flight operations for the full day and it will open at its normal time tomorrow onwards also," Chandigarh International Airport Limited (CHAIL) spokesperson Deepesh Joshi said.
The airports at Halwara near Ludhiana and Adampur near Jalandhar, which are both with the IAF, were also put on high alert.
Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh decided to camp in the border areas of Punjab for three days starting Wednesday as part of confidence-building measures undertaken by the state government in the wake of the Indian Air Force (IAF) surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) on Tuesday.
A high alert has been sounded in the border districts by the state government, which is in constant touch with the Union Home and Defence ministries to stay abreast of the volatile situation arising from the strikes, undertaken by India as a retaliatory measure in the aftermath of the February 14 Pulwama terror attack.
In another development on Wednesday, twenty-one opposition parties expressed anguish over what they alleged was "blatant politicisation" of the sacrifices of armed forces and urged the government to take the nation into confidence on all measures to protect India's sovereignty, unity and integrity.
After a meeting, which lasted over three hours, in the Parliament Library, the leaders of these parties issued a joint statement, expressing concern over the prevailing security situation in the country.
"Anguished over blatant politicisation of sacrifices of armed forces by ruling party. Urge government to take the nation into confidence on all measures to protect India's sovereignty, unity, integrity.
"National security must transcend narrow political consideration," the joint statement said.
Across the border in Karachi, Pakistan, a high alert was sounded.
(With inputs from agencies)