New Delhi/Islamabad, Feb 28: Shortly after top Indian government source categorically made it clear that Pakistan had no option and that the issue of safe return of Wing Commander Abhinandan was absolutely non negotiable, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that the captured pilot will be released on Friday.
"In our desire for peace, I announce that tomorrow (Friday) and as a first step to open negotiations, Pakistan will be releasing the Indian Air Force officer in our custody," Mr Khan in the joint session of Parliament in Islamabad.
This came within two hours of an Indian official asserting in Delhi in as many words that "there will be no deal" and "no negotiation" with Pakistan on the issue of 'safe return' of Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan, who was captured by Pakistani forces on Wednesday after his MiG-21 Bison fighter aircraft crashed inside Pak Occupied Kashmir (PoK) territory after an aerial confrontation with a Pak F-16 jet.
Among Indian politicians, former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah welcomed the announcement by Mr Imran Khan.
"Very glad to know that Wing Commander Abhinandan will be heading home. I will wait for him to be back on Indian soil before I welcome him back, but I am greatly relieved that Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced the imminent release of our pilot," Mr Abdullah tweeted.
Earlier in the forenoon hours the Pakistan Prime Minister made a fresh offer to open negotiations with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
Indian government was not much impressed with the new offer and said once adequate and credible steps are taken - everyone will be willing to talk.
On the overall scenario in the ongoing conflict between India and Pakistan, the source in New Delhi also claimed that India has "upper hand" especially after the US, the UK and France have moved a proposal in UNSC to ban JeM chief Masood Azhar.
The source asserted that India is firm about not falling into Pakistani trap of 1999 when the national mood in India was changed after the hijack of IC814.
The ball is in Pakistan's court, it is time for Imran Khan to walk the talk and take immediate, verifiable and credible actions, the source had said. (UNI)