The first footage of the Indian Air Force commander, who was shot down and captured in an aerial skirmish between India and Pakistan this week, shows Abhinandan Varthaman speaking against a white wall in a heavily-edited video.
Detailed video pic.twitter.com/I44RWEbnCJ
— Tahir Khan (@taahir_khan) March 1, 2019
Varthaman, seen wearing an Indian Air Force uniform, says the Pakistani military was “professional” in treating him.
“I see peace in it. I have spent time with the Pakistani army. I am impressed,” Varthaman says in the part he delivered in English.
Varthaman’s jet was hit this Wednesday during a dogfight involving Indian MiG-21s and Pakistani F-16s. He ejected from the plane but landed in the Pakistani-administered part of Kashmir.
He was captured by locals, with videos on social media showing the pilot being attacked by an angry mob and Pakistani troops trying to evacuate him.
The next day, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said that Varthaman would be released on Friday as “a peace gesture” and the handover took place.
A military convoy, which set out from the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, delivered the man to the border where he was greeted by a crowd of Indian residents who chanted and waved national flags.
Varthaman walked across the border into India, near the town of Wagah, just before 9pm local time (1600 GMT), Pakistani media reported.
Tension between the two nuclear powers spiked after a deadly suicide attack on Indian security forces in mid-February in the disputed Kashmir region and an Indian air raid on what it said was a terrorist camp inside Pakistani territory.
Islamabad retaliated and warplanes from the two countries engaged in a massive dogfight. According to NDTV, eight Indian MiG-21s intercepted 24 Pakistani F-16s during the engagement. The Indian Air Force claims that one of its MiG-21 Bison aircraft shot down a Pakistan Air Force F-16 during the encounter.