News18 Wrap: Wing Commander Abhinandan to Come Home Tomorrow, India Says Pakistan Targeted Army & Other Stories You Missed

News18 Wrap brings you some of the biggest stories on News18.com today to help you stay updated at all times.

In case you missed it

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced that IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will be released on Friday. Khan made the announcement during an address to Pakistani parliament, saying it was a ‘gesture of peace’ and the first step to open negotiations. Khan’s announcement comes hours after US President Donald Trump said in Vietnam that there would “reasonably good news” coming from India and Pakistan. Read more. However, India refused to allow the captured pilot’s release to be used as a point of negotiation and said Pakistan must return Abhinandan immediately following Geneva Convention. Read more.

Following the announcement of wing commander Abhinandan’s return, the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy addressed a joint press conference along with the Ministry of External Affairs. Vice Air Marshal RGK Kapoor said that it was premature to say what the number casualties were in the Balakot air strike. However, he said that Indian achieved the intended target. He also said that India had evidence that proves that IAF MiG 21 bison downed an F-16 and the F-16 crashed on PoK side. Kapoor also confirmed that Pakistan had been aiming to hit military installations such as the Brigade HQ but their attempts were foiled by an alert IAF.

Read all the latest developments on News18.com’s LIVE blog.
Just four hours after United States President Donald Trump said there would be some “reasonably decent news” on the ongoing conflict between India and Pakistan, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman would be returned to India as a gesture of peace. Did pressure from the US secure the pilot’s release? Read more.

In his address to BJP party workers for a programme titled ‘Mera Booth, Sabse Mazboot’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country stands behind its soldiers. This was the Prime Minister’s first public address after the government confirmed that an IAF pilot — Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman — was being held in captivity by Pakistan. The BJP has claimed that through his address, Modi interacted with over one crore Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers and volunteers from 15,000 locations across the country. The BJP said party chief Amit Shah and other leaders are participating in the programme from its Delhi office. Read more.

The’Mera Booth Sabse Mazboot’ address has not gone down well with opposition parties, with several leaders questioning the Prime Minister’s silence on an IAF pilot being captured by the neighbouring nation. Read more.

Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal has agreed to step down as chairman of airline’s board, it was reported on Thursday. The crisis-hit airlines, which has been in operation for over 25 years, has been grappling with financial woes. Salary payments have been delayed for many employees, including pilots. Read more.

In an interview with News18, HS Panag, former northern army commander and lieutenant general of the Indian Army, said that India “has lost the perception battle.” He further elaborated that India should have been better prepared with the optics of war before taking on a conflict. “We were being informed about what had happened by the DGISPR in Pakistan rather than our own spokesperson,” he said. Read excerpts from the exclusive interview only on News18.com.

Disputing Pakistan’s version of the aerial confrontation that unfolded on Wednesday morning, sources in the government told News18 that more than 20 Pakistani aircraft had approached the Indian airspace at 9:45am and breached 10km inside. Laser-guided missile were fired at Indian military targets, but missed narrowly, defence ministry sources added. Read more.

Agree or disagree?

Nationalism was very much a part of Bollywood consciousness when India fought wars against hostile neighbours in 1948, 1962, 1965 and 1971. Raj Kapoor, Nargis, Kamini Kaushal, Geeta Bali, Sitara Devi, Agha Jan Baig, IS Johar, Kishore Sahu, Mukesh and several others agreed to do so without hesitation. Sitara Devi gave a Kathak performance, while Kamini Kaushal danced the Bharatanatyam and Mukesh sang. All for politics. Read Rasheed Kidwai’s take on Bollywood and war propaganda.

Art of the Day

Abhinandan-IAF-Cartoon

Imran Khan’s Offer of Dialogue and Peace is Hollow, India Must Not Engage, say Former Diplomats​. Read more.

Updated: February 28, 2019 — 4:12 pm