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As India awaits the return of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman after he was captured by the Pakistan army, the national capital has been put on high alert.

The Pakistani military has said his plane was downed on the Pakistani-held side of Kashmir on Wednesday. His handover took several hours as a roster of procedures were completed including a medical checkup to verify his health and condition before being handed over to his countrymen.

This week's violence marked the most serious escalation of the long-simmering conflict since 1999, when Pakistan's military sent a ground force into Indian-controlled Kashmir at Kargil. "We have come here to support him", another spectator who came to the Wagah border with his family told the ABP news channel.

Crowds of Indians had gathered near the border crossing to welcome the Indian fighter pilot home.

Bhattacharyya stressed that India carried out the operation very carefully and only used precision-guided munitions to avoid civilian casualties and Pakistani military installations.

The militant group claimed responsibility for a deadly terrorist attack on Feb.14 that killed at least 40 Indian security personnel.

After Abhinandan was shot down on Wednesday in a dogfight with Pakistani aircraft, purported footage that went viral showed him being beaten by locals before Pakistani soldiers intervened.

Since the escalation, world leaders have scrambled to head off an all-out war on the Asian subcontinent.

Pakistan says Indian aircraft 'released a payload' after crossing frontier, no casualties
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Army on Tuesday alleged that the Indian IAF violated the Line of Control (LoC) in Muzafarabad sector. An actual strike in that area would be significant since it is not in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, but in Pakistan proper.

The Minister thanked US President Donald Trump "for taking an interest to de-escalate the situation", adding that the "US can play a significant role".

In another video, posted on Twitter by Pakistan's information ministry, the pilot is blindfolded and can be heard saying "I've got hurt and I would request some water".

India accused Pakistan of harbouring the Jaish-e Mohammad group behind the attack and Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised a strong response.

The country's civil aviation agency said authorities would announce on Friday afternoon whether they are reopening or keeping the airspace closed.

However, other airports - including Lahore, Sialkot, and Multan - are slated to be opened for flight operations on March 4 at 1pm.

Pakistan on Wednesday claimed it shot down two Indian fighter jets over Pakistani air space and arrested a pilot. The closures snarled air traffic.

The parliament also condemned India's baseless allegations against Pakistan in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack of February 14 for being politically motivated, and pointed out that that the Indian government's subsequent actions have been guided by its electoral calculations.


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