Thu, 28 February 2019
IAF to receive Abhinandan at Wagah border in the evening: Sources

Timeline  Refresh

23:48   Turkey's Erdogan congratulates Pakistan's Imran Khan on his peace overtures to India
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has congratulated Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on the speech he delivered in the parliament to stress his message for peace.

In a telephonic conversation with Khan, the Turkish president also lauded the premier's "statesman-like offers to India for de-escalating the situation and working towards peace", according to the PTI.
23:28   Putin expresses Russia's solidarity in India's fight against terror
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called Prime Minister Narendra Modi to express his deep condolences over the Pulwama terrorist attack and conveyed the solidarity of his country with New Delhi in its fight against terror.  
Modi thanked Putin for Russia's steadfast support for India's efforts to protect its interests against cross-border terror attacks, a statement from the Prime Minister's Office said.

In their telephonic conversation, the prime minister also 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.

The two also agreed that the growing cooperation between the two countries will take their special and privileged strategic partnership from strength to strength.

Russian President Putin reiterated the invitation to Modi to attend the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok later this year. 

The PM welcomed the invitation and underscored the significance of growing economic cooperation, including in the Russian Far East, between the two countries, the statement added. 

-- PTI
22:56   IAF to receive Abhinandan at Wagah border in the evening: Sources
A delegation of IAF team will on Friday receive Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, captured by Pakistan during an aerial combat, at the Wagah border, official sources said. 
Varthaman's MiG 21 was shot and he bailed out after bringing down one Pakistani F-16 fighter during a dogfight to repel a Pakistani attack on Wednesday morning. He has been in Pakistan since then. 

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced in Parliament on Thursday that Varthaman would be released on Friday as a "peace gesture".

Tensions between the two countries escalated after Indian fighters bombed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed's biggest training camp near Balakot deep inside Pakistan early Tuesday. It came 12 days after the JeM claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Kashmir, killing 40 soldiers.

A team of Indian Air Force officials will receive Wing Commander Abhinandan at the Wagah border on Friday evening, the sources said. 

It is not clear whether Varthaman will be handed over to the International Red Cross or to the Indian authorities by Pakistan. 

-- PTI
22:40   Govt imposes ban on Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir
Separatist group Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir was banned on Thursday under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for alleged anti-national and subversive activities, officials said.
A notification on the ban was issued by the Ministry of home affairs after a high-level meeting on security, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The separatist group is alleged to be involved in anti-national and subversive activities in the country and is in close touch with militant outfits.
Security forces launched a crackdown on separatist forces and arrested many leaders and cadres of the Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir after the February 14 terrorist attack in Pulwama, in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed. 

-- PTI
22:16   Union Cabinet approves the Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) Amendment Order, 2019
After a Cabinet meeting, Union Ministers Arun Jaitley and Ravi Shankar Prasad announced that the Union Cabinet approved the Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) Amendment Order, 2019. 

Once notified this will pave the way for giving benefit of promotion in service to the SCs, STs & also extend the reservation of up to 10 per cent for economically weaker sections in educational institutions & public employment in addition to the existing reservation in Jammu & Kashmir.
21:52   Amarinder wishes to receive Abhinandan at Wagah border, appeals to Modi
As India awaits IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's return on Friday, Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh has appealed to the Modi government that he would like to receive Abhinandan upon his return at the Wagah border.

In a tweet, Amarinder Singh wrote: "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. (sic)"

CM Amarinder Singh visited some border villages in Punjab on Thursday in the wake of prevailing tension as he welcomed Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's announcement that captured IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will be released terming it a "goodwill gesture".

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced on Thursday evening that Abhinandan Varthaman, who was captured on Wednesday after his emergency parachute crossed over to the Pakistani side, will be released as a message of peace.
21:14   'Abhinandan', 'Balakot', 'Pulwama': Bollywood producers fight to register movie titles
"Pulwama: The deadly attack," declared the middle-aged Bollywood producer, before turning to his mousy assistant. "Kaisa laga?"

The assistant hurriedly indicated his assent. "Ek Aur Likho Pulwama Attack Versus Surgical Strikes 2.0," the producer said, before turning to this correspondent. "You've got to think of long, complicated titles. The straight ones like Pulwama, Surgical Strike 2.0, Balakot are all gone."

While most of India anxiously waits for news of war and prays for the safe return of captured Indian Air Force Pilot, Abhinandan Varthaman, Bollywood is moving quickly to capitalise on this national tragedy. 

Read full story HERE
20:49   India cancels Samjhauta Express operations on its end
Railways has cancelled the operations of the Indo-Pak Samjhauta Express on its side from Thursday, which senior officials said was due to "purely operational reasons" as Pakistan had suspended services from across the border.

A notification in this regard was issued here.
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.

The train, which was supposed to leave from Attari to Delhi at around 8 pm Thursday, has been cancelled.

The Railway Board has also suspended all operations of the Attari Special Express, Delhi-Attari-Delhi, which together with the Wagah-Lahore link is known as the Samjhauta or Friendship Express, from the train's next scheduled run which is on Sunday, March 3, according to the order.

"With no passengers from Pakistan, it makes no sense to run it on our end. The cancellation has been done purely for operational reason. Hopefully we will be able to resume services once the tension de-escalates," a source said.

At least 40 passengers from both countries are believed to be stranded at Attari, the sources said.

Pakistan had Wednesday cancelled the train's trip on the Wagah-Lahore stretch on its side, even as 27 passengers -- 24 Indians and three from the neighbouring country arrived in Attari at 7 am.

-- PTI
20:42   PM Modi chairs high-level meeting on security
Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairs a high level meet on security. 

The meeting comes after a joint presser by the armed forces during which the IAF said there is enough evidence to show that Pakistan used F-16s to target Indian military installations in this mission. 

Pakistan has denied that F-16 was part of the operationany such admission would violate US sale conditions of not letting Pakistan use F-16s in an offensive role.
20:14   Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi calls up PM Modi
It has been learnt that Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Mohamed bin Zayed has made  telephone calls to Indian and Pakistani prime ministers, stressing importance of dealing wisely with recent developments and giving priority to dialogue and communication.
19:50   India presents proof of Pakistan using F-16s
While addressing the media, Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor said, "
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."

19:23   'We'll continue to target terror camps': Joint briefing by Services
When being asked about the counter-terror strikes in Pakistan, Army's Major General Surendra Singh Behal responded, "Our fight is against terrorism. We are ready to destroy terror installations until Pakistan backs terrorism."

The Armed Forces is carrying out a press briefing hours after Pakistan PM Imran Khan announced that Pakistan would be returning the captured IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman on Friday. 

Image: Army's Major General Surendra Singh Behal. Photograph: ANI/Twitter
19:16   1 F-16 jet of Pak was shot down by IAF: Joint briefing by military
Highlights from the joint press conference by armed forces.

IAF's Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor: 

>> Indian Air Force detected a large package of Pakistan aircraft near West of Rajouri

>> Pakistani Aircraft targeted military formation

>> Pakistani bombs exploded in Indian military formation, but couldn't inflict any damage

>> One Pakistani F-16 was shot down by an IAF MiG 21 Bison Aircraft. East of Rajouri, parts of F-16 have been recovered, inside Indian territory.

>> IAF has also learnt that Abhinandan will be returned. IAF is happy to hear of his return. 

Army Major General Surendra Singh Behal:

>> Pakistan resorted to unprovoked ceasefire violations

>> Pakistan targeted brigade headquarters

>> Our mechanised forces are on standby. I want to assure the nation that we are fully prepared

>> We are ready to act against inimical forces

Navy Rear Admiral DS Gujral:

>> 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

18:57   Diplomatic, military pressure secured Abhi's release: Sources
India used diplomatic and military pressure to ensure that Pakistan releases Wing Commander Abhinandan unconditionally, top sources said in New Delhi on Thursday. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made no compromises on the Pakistani proposal for holding talks, the sources said.

India mounted pressure on Pakistan through the international community, with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval holding talks with the United States and other P-5 countries, the sources said.

The External Affairs Ministry also exerted pressure on Pakistan through the Arab world, they said.   -- ANI
18:46   Watching Indo-Pak tensions closely: Chinese military
China's military on Thursday 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.

"We have noted the latest developments and we are closely watching the situation," Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman, Senior Col Ren Guochang told a media briefing in Beijing when asked about the prevailing tensions between India and Pakistan.

Asked whether the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has increased the presence of its troops in the borders in view of the tensions, Col Ren 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'.

He said India and Pakistan are two major countries in South Asia.

"A harmonious relation between the two countries serve the interests of the two countries as well as peace and development of the region and the world.

"We hope the two sides can exercise restraint and properly handle differences and prevent further escalation," he said.  -- PTI
18:35   Court raps AAP govt for not granting sanction to prosecute Kanhaiya, others
A Delhi court on Thursday rapped the Aam Aadmi Party government for not granting the requisite sanction to prosecute former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar and others in a 2016 sedition case, warning that it would proceed with the case even without the go-ahead.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Deepak Sherawat was informed by the investigating officer (IO) that the state government has not yet granted the required sanction to the Delhi Police to prosecute the accused.

To this, the judge said: "You (Delhi police) took three years (for filing charge sheet). Now they (Delhi government) will also take three years (for granting sanctions)... Whether sanction has been granted or not I will proceed with the case."

The court had earlier also directed the police to ask the authorities concerned to expedite the process while granting it three weeks to procure the sanction needed to prosecute Kumar and other accused, including former JNU students, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, in the case.

On January 14, the police filed the charge sheet in the court against Kumar and others, saying he was leading a procession and supported seditious slogans raised on the campus during an event on February 9, 2016.

During the day's hearing, the police told the court that Kumar had organised the 2016 event though permission was denied.

It further told the court that co-accused Bhattacharya and Khalid had raised anti-India slogans during the event marking the hanging of Parliament-attack mastermind Afzal Guru and Kanhaiya had supported them.

The court, which listed the matter for further hearing on March 11, asked the police to provide it the video footage of the incident for its perusal.

The court had earlier questioned the police for filing a charge sheet against Kumar and others without procuring the sanctions.

"Why did you file (the charge sheet) without approval? You don't have a legal department," the court had said.

Police has also charged Khalid and Bhattacharya for allegedly shouting anti-India slogans during the event to mark the hanging of Parliament-attack mastermind Afzal Guru.

Earlier, the police had claimed before the court that Kumar had raised anti-India slogans in 2016 'to incite hatred and disaffection towards the government'.

It had cited statements of various witnesses in its charge sheet to state that Kumar was walking along with the protesters where a number of unidentified persons were raising slogans during the event.

The evidence listed by the agency include report of JNU's high-level committee, statement of varsity's registrar Bhupinder Zutshi and the mobile phone recordings in which Kumar was seen arguing with him over cancellation of the programme.

Police had said a video shot by a news channel and clips shot by students present at the spot show that Khalid, Bhattacharya and Ashutosh were raising slogans.

It added however that the slogans raised by Ashutosh were not anti-national, unlike those by Khalid and Bhattacharya.

Khalid raised slogans as shown in the videos and mobile clips, police said, citing a video which shows him saying, "The programme is against occupation of Kashmir by the Indian State. I am making it very apparent that I am not from Kashmir but I believe that what is happening in Kashmir is Indian occupation of Kashmir..."

Regarding Rama Naga, whose name appears in column 12, the charge sheet said that he delivered speech with contents against the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

On 36 others listed in column 2 of the charge sheet, including Ashutosh, Rama Naga, Banojyotsana, Shehla Rashid and Aparajitha Raja, police said that they were not seen raising anti-India slogans.

A case was registered on February 11, 2016 under sections 124A (sedition) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code against unidentified persons at Vasant Kunj (North) police station, following complaints from Bharatiya Janata Party lawmaker Maheish Girri and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.

The event had taken place despite the university administration cancelling the permission, following a complaint from ABVP, which had termed it 'anti-national'.  -- PTI
18:27   'Welcome Back Abhinandan' trends as India readies to welcome IAF hero
Emotions ran high in India as Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan today said that Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will be sent back home tomorrow.

Abhinandan was captured by the Pakistani Army after the MiG-21 Bison jet that he was flying was shot down by the Pakistani Air Force.

He was kept in Pakistan custody as pressure from all over the world mounted on the neighbouring country to release the pilot.

Soon after the news of Abhinandan's release broke, Twitter users took to the micro-blogging platform to say #WelcomeBackAbhinandan.

18:17   Big relief, says Omar
Omar Abdullah: Very glad to know that #WingCommandarAbhinandan will be heading home. I'll wait for him to be back on Indian soil before I welcome him back but I'm greatly relieved that PM @ImranKhanPTI has announced the imminent release of our pilot.
17:52   Vadra: Best news for his family
Robert Vadra reacts on Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's release: "It is the best news for his family and every citizen of India..."
17:51   Step towards goodwill: Punjab CM
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to be released by Pakistan: I'm very happy, I had demanded his release earlier too. This is going to be a step towards goodwill and I hope this will be lasting. 
17:24   Quickest release of an Indian POW in Pak captivity?
Senior journalist MK Venu tweets: Retd Gen Ashok Mehta tells me this will be the shortest captivity of a downed pilot in history. Field Marshall Ayub Khan had offered General Cariappa release of his son, a downed pilot in 1965 war, within a day but he refused saying he didn't want a special favour.
17:17   Armed forces briefing at 7 pm
Change of plans after Pakistan announces Abhinandan Varthaman's release tomorrow. The armed forces press briefing scheduled for 5 pm will now be held at 7 pm.   
17:15   India reacts to Abhinandan's release: Pilot was not an aggressor
First reactions from India on Pakistan PM Imran Khan announcing they will be freeing Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, in their custody since yesterday, tomorrow. India says the captured IAF pilot was not an aggressor, he was defending Indian airspace. "There is no reason for Pakistan to hold our pilot captive," India said.  

Pakistan Prime Minister in a joint session of Parliament in Pakistan said Pakistan is making efforts to deescalate the current tension. He said that he also tried to contact the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday. He said that he will also talk to the Turkish President later today to ask him to play his role in the reduction of tension.

Imran Khan urged the international community to play its role in de-escalation for peace and stability in the region. 

Image: Imran Khan announcing Abhinandan Varthaman's release in the Pakistan Assembly. 
16:59   Will free Indian pilot as a peace gesture tomorrow: Imran
Pakistan PM Imran Khan has said they will release IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman tomorrow as a gesture of peace. Do not confuse our desire for de-escalation as weakness," Prime Minister Imran Khan said in a joint session of the Pak Parliament. He reiterated that Pakistan wants peace with India. 

The surprise announcement came barely an hour after Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Prime Minister Khan is ready to talk to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to de-escalate Indo-Pak tensions.
The announcement  was greeted by thumping of desks by Pakistani lawmakers. 

"In our desire for peace, I announce that tomorrow, and as a first step to open negotiations, Pakistan will be releasing the Indian Air Force officer, in our custody," Imran Khan said.

Wing Commander Abhinandan has been in Pakistan's custody since yesterday when the MiG 21 he was flying was shot down in a dogfight with Pakistan Air Force planes. 

India has maintained that it expects Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to be returned immediately and that there was no question of any deal. 

"If Pakistan thinks they have a card to negotiate with then they are mistaken. India expects the Wing Commander to be treated in a humane manner. 

"Pakistan is trying to create a Kandahar type pressure but India will not give in, there will be no deal or talks on Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's release," defence sourcs said.

US President Donald Trump, rather tellingly said today that "reasonably decent" news on the India-Pakistan conflict is expected and "hopefully" it's coming to an end.
16:39   Pak violates ceasefire in several sectors
Jammu & Kashmir: 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. 

The Pakistani Army Thursday heavily shelled forward posts along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch and Rajauri districts, committing repeated ceasefire violations but drawing "strong" retaliation from the Indian Army, an official said. 

This is the seventh consecutive day that Pakistan breached the ceasefire, targeting forward posts along the LoC. There have been fresh ceasefire violations in Nowshera and Krishna Ghati sectors, officials said. They committed three ceasefire violations during the day, officials added. 

"At about 2.14 pm, the Pakistani troops resorted to unprovoked mortar shelling and small arms firing along the LoC in Nowshera sector in Rajouri, violating the ceasefire," the Defence PRO said.

They violated the ceasefire earlier at about 1 pm, resorting to unprovoked shelling and firing along the LoC in Krishna Ghati sector, he said. 

"The Indian Army retaliated strongly and effectively," he added. The Pakistani army began breaching ceasefire since early morning, resorting to unprovoked shelling and firing in the Krishna Ghati sector, he said, adding the pre-dawn shelling bout ended at 6 am.

In view of the prevailing situation, authorities have ordered temporary closure of educational institutions, located up to five kms from the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch districts. They have asked border village residents to stay inside their homes and not to move outside amid the shelling.  
15:45   Pak may exchange Abhinandan for de-escalation of tension
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi (pictured) said on Thursday that Pakistan is willing to consider returning Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman if it leads to de-escalation of tension and peace with India.

Speaking to Geo News, Qureshi said, "India handed over a dossier to the acting High Commissioner of Pakistan a day earlier and we will examine it. I will evaluate the dossier with an open heart and then see if talks will be held on that.

"We are willing to return the captured Indian pilot if it leads to de-escalation and peace. We are ready for all positive engagement," he added.

India has however stated that there will be no negotiations on Abhinandan Varthaman's release. "India expects Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to be returned immediately; there is no question of any deal. If Pakistan thinks they have a card to negotiate with then they are mistaken. India expects the Wing Commander to be treated in a humane manner," defence sources said.  

Qureshi said, "If Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is ready, Prime Minister Imran Khan is willing to talk to him."

Wing Commander Varthaman was captured by the Pakistani Army after his MiG-21 Bison jet crashed on Pakistani soil. Pakistan-based newspaper Dawn claimed that a boy shot at the Indian pilot.

The Indian High Commission in Islamabad last evening gave a demarche to Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) for the immediate and safe return of the IAF pilot, sources said. -- ANI
14:58   India's message to Pak: Return Abhinandan, no negotiations
Just in: Sources tell news agency ANI that India expects Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to be returned immediately; there is no question of any deal. If Pakistan thinks they have a card to negotiate with then they are mistaken. India expects the Wing Commander to be treated in a humane manner. 

Pakistan is trying to create a Kandahar type pressure but India will not give in, there will be no deal or talks on Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's release.

India says it did not target any civilians or military installations, but Pakistan escalated by targeting Indian military installations. India did not deliberately cross LoC, very strong demarches have been given. India has foiled Pak attempts at creating a war psychosis.

On proof to Pak: India did not consider giving actionable intel earlier as Pak has not acted in past on actionable inputs on Mumbai and Pathankot. Terrorists were caught, audio given, access given to forward posts in Pathankot. Pakistan remained in denial. Thirteen days after Pulwama, they still deny JeM role.

On talks: We are ready for talks on Kartarpur. They (Pakistan) had called it off just as they had closed airspace and stopped Samjhauta Express. We are trying to appear reasonable, they are creating a war hysteria.

Pak lies: Pakistan has lied to international community on Jaish-e-Mohammed and about two pilots in custody. They lied on Indian ships approaching, they have lied on missile strikes.
14:15   Has US secured Abhinandan's release? Omar thinks so
Omar Abdullah tweets: So the US has secured the release of our pilot & in turn India has agreed to deescalate is how I read this statement from Trump.

Trump had said says there is "reasonably decent" news on the India-Pakistan conflict and "hopefully" it's coming to an end.
14:09   SC stays its own order on forest rights of tribals
Supreme Court stays its February 13 order, directing several states to evict forest dwellers whose claims over traditional forestland have been rejected under law. The apex court also asks states to submit details of the process adopted to assess the claims. The next date of hearing is July 10. States have also been told to inform the SC about the procedure followed for determining the forest rights as well as whether the state level monitoring committees actually monitored the process or not. 
14:01   Armed forces briefing at 5 today
There will be a joint press briefing by the Army, Navy and Air Force in New Delhi at 5 pm today. 

Defence Ministry Officials said they believe the air intrusion by Pakistan 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. 

-- We believe that the Pakistan Army is actively supporting the Jaish-e-Mohammed and is harbouring the leaders including Masood Azhar in its facilities. 

The Navy will also be a part of the joint press conference.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan was ready to negotiate the return of the IAF pilot with India. 

India on Wednesday summoned the acting high commissioner of Pakistan and demanded the immediate and safe return of Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman who has been detained by Pakistan following an aerial engagement by air forces of the two countries.

It has also been made clear to Pakistan that no harm should be caused to the Indian defence personnel, the external affairs ministry said, adding it has conveyed strong objection to the neighbouring country at the "vulgar display" of an injured personnel in violation of all norms of International Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Convention. 
13:41   Pak violates ceasefire in Poonch
Pakistan has violated ceasefire at 1 pm today along the Line of Control in Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch district. Indian Army retaliated effectively, reports ANI.
13:24   Reasonably decent news from India, Pakistan: Trump
US President Donald Trump on the possibility of a detente between Indan and Pakistan. As the summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un ended with no agreement, Trump said, "I think (there is) 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. 

As you may recall, after the Pulwama attack, Trump had said, India is planning something "very strong" and described the situation between India and Pakistan as very dangerous. 
12:56   16 passengers stranded in Lahore, Samjhauta occupancy down 70%
Pakistani authorities have suspended the Samjhauta Express train service between Pakistan and India until further notice, an official said Thursday, amidst tense bilateral ties in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack. The train departs on Monday and Thursday from Lahore. 

"The operation of Samjhauta Express has been suspended today (Thursday) in view of the prevailing tensions between Pakistan and India," Pakistan's Foreign Office (FO) spokesman said in a statement.

The biweekly train was scheduled to depart from Lahore with 16 passengers.

"Samjhauta Express will resume its operations as soon as the security situation improves between India and Pakistan," the FO said without giving any specific date for resuming the train service.

The FO statement came after a spokesman of the Railways said early in the morning that the train service scheduled to depart for India at 8.00 am  (local time) was cancelled. 

Dawn news reported that the train embarked on its journey from Karachi but stopped at Lahore railway station after officials suspended its service. The Samjhauta Express, named after the Hindi word for "agreement", comprises six sleeper coaches and an AC 3-tier coach. The train service was started on July 22, 1976 under the Shimla Agreement that settled the 1971 war between the two nations.

Sources said that the footfall of the train, which generally records an occupancy of around 70 per cent, has fallen drastically post the Pulwama terror attack. Tensions have escalated between India and Pakistan in the wake of the Pulwama attack by Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).  -- PTI
12:28   News briefs at this hour
-- The three service chiefs to meet Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman shortly.

-- The White House confirms US, North Korea have failed to reach a deal during the Hanoi Summit, the Singapore's Strait Times says.

-- DG Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB), Sanjay Barve to take over as new Commissioner Mumbai Police, present Mumbai Police Commissioner Subodh Jaiswal to be New DGP Maharashtra.
12:17   Pak F16 pilot beaten by Pakistani villagers believing he was Indian
News coming in is that the Pakistani F16 pilot who ejected and landed in Pakistan after being shot down by India landed in a semi-conscious condition. He was found by the Pakistani locals who further beat him semi dead before realising that he was Pakistani. 

That pilot was initially reported to be Indian and hence the Pakistanis were reporting two Indian pilots in their custody. Upon realising that it's their own pilot and not Indian they are doing whatever they can to hide this embarrassment. 

Scroll down for pictures of the wreckage of the F16 jet. 
12:13   Yeddy backtracks on BJP@22 seats statement
When you've just been given a sharp rap on the knuckles by the high command. 

BJP senior leader and former Karnataka CM BS Yeddyurappa tweets: My statement is being reported out of context. I said that 'situation favourable for BJP' which i am saying for last couple of months. This is not first time that i said BJP in Karnataka will win minimum 22 seats under the able leadership of Modiji."

Yeddyurappa on Wednesday said that India's 'preemptive' strikes on terror camps in Pakistan have created a wave in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and will help the party win over 22 of 28 seats in the state in the coming Lok Sabha polls.

"The by day the wind is increasingly blowing in favour of the BJP. Yesterday's (Tuesday's) action of destroying terror hideouts by entering inside Pakistan has resulted in a pro-Modi wave in the country, the results of which can be seen in coming Lok Sabha polls," Yeddyurappa said on Wednesday in Chitradurga.

"It has enthused youths; all this will help us in winning more than 22 Lok Sabha seats (in Karnataka)," said the former chief minister. 
Rahul Pandita @rahulpandita "How many family members have you sent to war' is the new nonsense."
12:01   'Pak has no choice. It has to return our pilot'
"One of the things that gives a downed pilot strength is the knowledge and confidence that his government will do everything in its power and more to get him back. My feeling is that they will send him back. Pakistan already has a bad name for harbouring terrorists. After scoring brownie points and exploiting this in the media, and after they have exhausted his usage they will return him to India."

Two former IAF MiG-21 pilots tell Archana Masih/ what happens when a pilot is downed in enemy territory and why Indian Air Force pilots are a class apart. Read the story here. 
11:51   Aus asks India, Pak to exercise restraint
Australia has once again urged India and Pakistan to "exercise restraint" and avoid further military action, saying the cycle of escalation is "very dangerous" for all. Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne, who was in London on Wednesday, said that she was very concerned about the escalating tensions between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack.

"I was hearing very serious reports about an escalation of the conflict between Pakistan and India. I am very concerned about those. "If those reports are correct, we would certainly urge both sides to exercise restraint and to avoid further military action... this is a dangerous cycle of escalation," she said. 

Payne said she would encourage "direct dialogue" between both countries to resolve these matters in a peaceful way. "I will seek further information as soon as I am in a position to do so," the minister said. -- PTI
11:48   Court upholds eviction of Associated Journals Limited from Herald House.
In other news, the Delhi High Court Thursday dismissed National Herald publisher AJL's plea challenging a single judge order to vacate its premises at ITO in New Delhi. A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao rejected the appeal of Associated Journals Ltd in which it had challenged the Centre's decision asking it to vacate the ITO premises. 

The AJL had appealed against the single judge's December 21, 2018 order that directed it to vacate the premises at ITO within two weeks, after which eviction proceedings under the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971, would be initiated. -- PTI
File picture of cross section of F16 engine and wreckage of downed Pakistani F16 jet. Compare it with the image below. 
11:14   First look: Pakistani F-16 jet in PoK downed by IAF yesterday
This is the wreckage of the downed Pakistani F16 from yesterdays failed Pakistan Air Force raid into India. The wreckage is in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Also seen in picture, released by news agency ANI, is the Commanding Officer of Pakistans 7 Northern Light Infantry. 

ANI reports that this picture has been circulating on social media claiming to be the Indian MiG fighter that went down in Pakistan. However, multiple IAF sources told ANI that this is the wreckage of the Pakistani
F-16 downed yesterday.

To bring you up to speed, yesterday, a day after India's air strike at Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp in Balakot, Pakistan,  there was heavy firing across the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch districts. 

In the morning, Pakistan carried out multiple ceasefire violations and their fighter jets, reportedly US F-16s violated Indian airspace. 
According to reports, the Pakistani jets were forced to retreat after retaliation from the Indian Army. One Pakistani F-16 that violated the Indian airspace was shot down in retaliation by the Indian forces in Pakistan territory in Lam district, Nowshera sector. A parachute was seen as the F-16 went down, however, the condition of the pilot is still unknown, ANI had reported.
10:49   PM to chair key security meet today, third in three days
PM Narendra Modi to chair a key security meet today with NSA Ajit Doval, senior ministers (likely to be Arun Jaitley, Niramala Sitharaman, Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj) and intel chiefs. This will be the third security meeting after the air strike on Balakot on February 26. 

Yesterday, Modi was being briefed by Doval and his officers on the border situation after the offensive by Pakistan Air Force along the LoC in Naushera sector of Jammu & Kashmir. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh also held a high-level meeting with Doval, RAW chief, Home Secretary and other officials at North Block. 

Image: The Cabinet Committee on Security meeting on February 26 in the morning after the air strikes on Balakot.
10:36   IAF pilot fired into air before being captured: Dawn
Mohammad Razzaq Chaudhry was in the courtyard of his house in Horra'n village, located barely 7km from the Line of Control (LoC) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir's Bhimber district, at about 8:45am on Wednesday when the "smoke and sound' made him realise that a dogfight was going on up above in the sky.

Upon watching them carefully, the 58-year-old political and social activist of the area noticed that two aircraft had caught fire but while one of them sped across the LoC, the other burst into flames and came down speedily. 

Read the report on Abhinandan Varthaman's capture according to Pakistani newspaper Dawn here. 
10:22   Abhinandan Varthaman: The pilot with blind faith
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was captured in Pakistan after his MiG-21 Bison crashed on Wednesday, is a part of Indian Air Force's 51 Squadron, called Sword Arms and based in Srinagar.

Before the Indian government confirmed his identity late in the evening, videos released by Pakistani government sources showing him in captivity had led journalists to his family home and a television show featuring him had been dug up.

The officer had appeared on the Jai Hind show on NDTV Good Times in 2011. Then a flight lieutenant who flew Sukhoi-30, he was asked what it takes to be a good Sukhoi pilot and replied: "Bad attitude". He also said: "I trust Dusty (his co-pilot) with my life, and he trusts me with his. That's our training. And this is blind faith. No two ways about it."

In the videos released on Wednesday, the wing commander is seen being rescued by the Pakistan Army from villagers assaulting him in a rivulet. He is later seen with his face bloodied.In a video where he is blindfolded, he says: "My name is Wing Commander Abhinandan. My service number is 27981. I am a flying pilot. My religion is Hindu." 

Questioned further, he replies: "Sorry, Sir. That's all I'm supposed to tell you.'Another video shows him drinking tea and being interviewed by a Pakistan Army major. He praises an army captain who saved him from the mob, and says: "I would like to put this on record and I will not change my statement if I go back to my country also, the Pakistani army has looked after me very well and they are thorough gentlemen." 

Image: Abhinandan Varthaman during the Jai Hind show in 2011.
A still from the NDTV programme in 2011
09:42   Won't keep quiet to any act of terrorism, says India's envoy to US
India's Ambassador to the United States, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, has said that India will not keep quiet to any act of terrorism and giving "appropriate response" to all terrorism incidents is the new normal for the country.
In a first-of-its-kind interaction with Indian students from the various universities from the Greater Washington area, Shringla said that Pakistan needs to meet its international obligations to crackdown on terrorist networks and safe havens within its territory.
Forty CRPF personnel were killed in a suicide attack by Pakistan-based JeM in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14, sparking outrage in the country.
Following the attack, India bombed and destroyed JeM's biggest training camp in Balakot in Pakistan's restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, about 80-km from the Line of Control (LoC) early Tuesday, killing a "very large number" of terrorists, trainers and senior commanders.
Shringla updated the Indian students about the latest development back home and why India choose to act this way, after the Pulwama terrorist attack. 
He said that Pakistan did not act against terrorist organisations or its leaders despite India giving actionable intelligence against the 26/11, Pathankot and Uri attacks.
"This time, India opted for pre-emptive attack, mainly because terrorists were planning to launch another terrorist attack inside India, he said referring to the daring air strike by Indian Air Force deep inside Pakistan. 
"By doing so, India ensured that it was a non-military, and in remote area with no civilian casualties," he said.
Shringla said that India has been successful in articulating its case with the international community including the US. 
"The international community is with India," he said.
Appreciating the strong support coming from United States, in particular from the White House, the State Department and the Congress, Shringla said this incident has brought the two countries together for counter-terrorism cooperation. -- PTI
09:41   Air strikes will help BJP win over 22 LS seats in K'taka: Yeddyurappa
Karnataka Bharatiya Janat Party chief BS Yeddyurappa on Wednesday said that India's 'preemptive' strikes on terror camps in Pakistan have created a wave in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and will help the party win over 22 of 28 seats in the state in the coming Lok Sabha polls.

"The by day the wind is increasingly blowing in favour of the BJP. Yesterday's (Tuesday's) action of destroying terror hideouts by entering inside Pakistan has resulted in a pro-Modi wave in the country, the results of which can be seen in coming Lok Sabha polls," Yeddyurappa said on Wednesday in Chitradurga.

"It has enthused youths; all this will help us in winning more than 22 Lok Sabha seats (in Karnataka)," said the former chief minister. 

The BJP has 16 parliamentary seats in Karnataka, the Congress 10 and Janata Dal Secular 2.

Yeddyurappa's comments may add fuel to the opposition's allegation of "blatant politicisation" of the sacrifices of the armed forces by the "leaders of the ruling party (BJP)."
09:10   Pak violates ceasefire along along LoC
Pakistan on Thursday violated ceasefire by resorting to unprovoked firing and heavy shelling of mortars in Krishna Ghati along the Line of Control in Poonch this morning.

Indian Army retaliated strongly and effectively. 

The gun-battle which commenced at 6 am concluded after an hour.

On Wednesday, Pakistani Rangers violated ceasefire in Mendhar and Krishna Ghati sectors in the Rajouri district, to which the Indian Army gave a befitting reply.

Another incident of ceasefire violation was also reported on Wednesday in Kamalkot area of Uri sector in Baramulla district. -- ANI
08:49   US, UK and France move UNSC to ban Masood Azhar
The United States, the United Kingdom and France have moved a fresh proposal in the United Nations Security Council to designate Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, a listing that will subject him to global travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo.
The fresh proposal was moved on Wednesday by the three permanent veto-wielding members of the 15-nation Security Council.
The Security Council Sanctions Committee will have 10 working days to consider the fresh proposal submitted by the three members. -- PTI  
08:24   Deny terrorists safe haven, block access to funds: US to Pak
The United States has asked Pakistan to abide by its United Nations Security Council commitments to deny terrorists safe haven and block their access to funds.
This US statement came after India on Wednesday handed over to Pakistan a dossier on specific details"of involvement of the Jaish-e-Muhammed in the Pulwama terror attack on Central Reserve Police Force as also the presence of camps of the UN-proscribed terror outfit in that country.
Forty CRPF personnel were killed in a suicide attack by Pakistan-based JeM in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14, sparking outrage in the country.
"Cross-border terrorism, such as the recent attack on India's CRPF on February 14, poses a grave threat to the security of the region. We reiterate our call for Pakistan to abide by its United Nations Security Council commitments to deny terrorists safe haven and block their access to funds," a State Department spokesperson  said.
The ministry of external affairs handed over the dossier Pakistan's acting high commissioner on Wednesday.
It was conveyed that India expects Pakistan to "take immediate and verifiable action" against terrorism emanating from territories under its control.
Responding to reporters questions over the current situation between India and Pakistan, the spokesperson joined the White House and the Pentagon in urging the two countries to de-escalate their tension and avoid military to resolve their differences. -- PTI
00:49   Fathima Bhutto seeks release of captured Indian pilot
Author Fatima Bhutto, the grand daughter of former Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, asked the Imran Khan government to release an Indian Air Force pilot captured after an air combat.
Pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was captured on Wednesday after he ejected safely from his MiG 21 Bison aircraft but landed across the Line of Control.
India has demanded immediate and safe return of the Wing Commander Varthaman, who was and was taken into custody by Pakistani army following a fierce engagement between air forces of the two sides along the Line of Control.

"I and many other young Pakistanis have called upon our country to release the captured Indian pilot as a gesture of our commitment to peace, humanity and dignity," Bhutto, 36, wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times.

"We have spent a lifetime at war. I do not want to see Pakistani soldiers die. I do not want to see Indian soldiers die. We cannot be a subcontinent of orphans," said Bhutto, a writer who is also niece of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
"My generation of Pakistanis have fought for the right to speak, and we are not afraid to lend our voices to that most righteous cause: peace," said  daughter of Murtaza Bhutto, son of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

She said Pakistan's recent history was bloody and no one has suffered more violence than its own citizens.
"But our long history with military dictatorships and experience of terrorism and uncertainty means that my generation of Pakistanis have no tolerance, no appetite, for jingoism or war," she said.
Bhutto said like her, a large section of the population was against the escalation of tensions.

-- PTI
00:13   Nobel winner Malala asks India and Pak to 'sit down and settle conflict'
Expressing her concern for people living along both sides of the border, Nobel Laureate and UN messenger of peace Malala Yousafzai urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan to show true leadership in this difficult time and settle long-standing Kashmir issue through dialogue.

In a statement which she posted on her Twitter feed, she said she was alarmed by the escalation of tensions between both the countries. 

She said, "Everyone aware of the horrors of war would agree that retaliation and revenge is never the right response -- once started, it rarely ends. Millions of people are suffering today because of existing wars -- we don't need another."

The Nobel winner added, "I ask Prime Ministr of Pakistan Imran Khan and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi to show true leadership in this difficult time: to sit down, shake hands and settle the current conflict and long-standing issue of Kashmir through dialogue."