While in captivity, he was treated with dignity and in line with international law, said Pakistan in the first official statement after Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's release

New Delhi: The captured Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman has been returned to India today. He was arrested when his military jet MIG-21 crashed in Azad Jammu & Kashmir after being shot down by Pakistan Air Force for violating Pakistani airspace on February 27, 2019.

While in captivity, he was treated with dignity and in line with international law. Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Imran Khan announced his return as a goodwill gesture aimed at de-escalating rising tensions with India.

Pakistani officials handed over Varthaman to the Indian and IAF officials at the Attari-Wagah Border and immediately after the pilot’s release he was whisked away in a convoy by the officials, reported PTI.

As per the IAF officials, he will be brought to Delhi from Amritsar in a special flight after which he will be debriefed.

Varthaman was captured by Pakistani authorities on February 27 after his MiG 21 Bison crash landed in PoK during a dogfight with a Pakistani F-16 jet. India waited with bated breath and prayed for the safety of Abhinandan who downed an F-16 fighter jet of Pakistan Air Force by firing an R-73 air-to-air missile before his MiG-21 Bison was hit during a fierce dogfight, PTI reported.

Addressing a special joint sitting of Parliament on Thursday Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the pilot’s release as a "peace gesture". However, India has repeatedly said that Abhinandan’s release is in consonance with the Geneva Convention.

The Pakistan government was under tremendous international pressure from all quarters to de-escalate the tensions with India and release the captured pilot.