Former envoy to Pak confident of safe return of captured IAF pilot

India had demanded immediate and safe return of Varthaman and strongly objected Pak's 'vulgar display' of injured defence personnel.

Kolkata: Former envoy to Pakistan G Parthasarathy, who played a key role in bringing back IAF pilot K Nachiketa during the 1999 Kargil war, has expressed his confidence that wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman too would return safely.

Parthasarathy recollected that growing international pressure had forced Pakistan to come up with a "goodwill gesture" of releasing Nachiketa, a flight lieutenant who was forced to eject in Pakistani territory after his jet developed a technical snag 20 years ago.

"I am confident that Abhinandan would be back safely. I have no doubts about it. Pakistan has to abide by the Geneva Convention (of 1929), they just can't violate it," he told PTI.

Read: No deal, says India on pilot return; Pak media reports release is conditional

Varthaman was captured by Pakistan on Wednesday after his plane was shot down. The Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot will be governed under the Geneva Convention of 1929.

India had demanded the immediate and safe return of Varthaman and strongly objected to the neighbouring country's "vulgar display" of injured defence personnel in violation of international norms.

Parthasarathy, the then Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad, was at the helm of the negotiations for Nachiketa's release.

"The (Kargil) war (was) getting politically uncomfortable for Pakistan. People (the international community) realised that they (Pakistan) had started the war through intrusion," he said. "And, at that point of time, Pakistan was heavily dependent on Americans, and the Bill Clinton administration had turned the screws on them. So, as a show of goodwill gesture, Pakistan decided to release our pilot," he said.

Pakistan had wanted to make "a media spectacle" of the release, the former diplomat said, adding, "I insisted that the release had to be in accordance to the Geneva Convention, which Pakistan agreed to."

On the ongoing situation at the India-Pakistan border, Parthasarathy said that with the US, France and the UK moving a fresh proposal in the UN Security Council to designate Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, it's a "diplomatic win" for India. "The international recognition acted in a measured manner and is a positive.

Obviously, no one wants it to escalate beyond a point. So, the government will have to think over what needs to be done to respond to yesterday's provocation by Pakistan," he said.

( Source : PTI )
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