Pakistan partially reopens airspace after 2-day flight ban amid Kashmir tensions

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Pakistan's prime minister pledged on Thursday his country would release the captured Indian fighter pilot, a move that could help defuse the most serious confrontation in two decades between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

On Thursday, Pakistan Prime Minister told the Pakistan National Assembly that Wing Commander Abhinandan will be released on Friday as a 'peace gesture and as a first step to open negotiations.' Pakistan's move to release the IAF pilot followed massive pressure from the global community including the US, UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Indian military officials said on Thursday they welcomed Pakistan's plan to return the captured Indian pilot on Friday.

Social media is full of news related to Wing Commander Abhinandan since he was captured by the Pakistan army on Wednesday morning.

That suicide attack and India's retaliatory strike Tuesday prompted a show of force a day later by Pakistan, which escalated into skirmishes among fighter jets belonging to both countries. Saudi Arabia's ambassador to India met Prime Minister Narendra Modi early Thursday.

Speaking to Geo News, Qureshi said, "I have received a message that the Saudi foreign minister is departing for Pakistan".

On Wednesday at least one Indian warplane was shot down by Pakistani forces after crossing the global border. The target was a camp run by the Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group, which claimed responsibility for the February 14 suicide auto bombing in Kashmir that killed 40 members of India's security forces.

The actual events of the past couple of days remain hazy as contradictory statements have emerged from both sides, but the heightened risk of a greater conflict was clear.

Police have already arrested at least 400 leaders and activists, mainly from the Jama'at-e-Islami, which seeks self-determination for the Himalayan region, which is divided between India and Pakistan but claimed by both in its entirety.

She said airspace for all commercial flights would be re-opened on March 4 at 1.00 p.m. (0800 GMT).

In another video, posted on Twitter by Pakistan's state broadcaster, PTV news, the pilot is shown relaxed while saying "I would like to put this on record and I would not change my statement if I go back to my country". More than 200 people had fled to a military organized camp about 20 kilometers (16 miles) away from the border. They have fought three wars, two directly dealing with the disputed region.

Modi, in his first remarks since the pilot's capture, gave a rallying speech ahead of elections in the coming months.

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was handed over to Indian officials near a border crossing with Pakistan.

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