Vastavam web: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has welcomed the return of Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthman from captivity in Pakistan and called on the two countries to sustain the “positive momentum” and engage in further constructive dialogue. The IAF Wing Commander returned to India from Pakistan on Friday to a hero’s welcome, nearly 60 hours after he was captured following a dogfight when his MiG 21 was shot down.
“UN chief Guterres welcomes the news of the release of the Indian pilot by Pakistani authorities,” his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told when asked about the Secretary-General’s response to the development. Varthaman’s release was being watched with bated breath across India as the IAF pilot was accorded a hero’s welcome as he crossed onto India through the Wagah Border.
The IAF pilot’s release was seen as a major step towards defusing a near-war situation triggered by India’s retaliation over Pakistan’s continued support for terrorism. Tensions between India and Pakistan flared up after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir on February 14.
Varthaman was in one of the eight MiG-21s that took on the invader and shot down an F-16, according to officials. During the dogfight, his plane was hit and he bailed out, landing in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, where he was taken into custody by the Pakistani army.