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Political Leaders Express Concern, Pray for IAF Pilot’s Safe Return From Pakistan’s Custody


New Delhi: With New Delhi acknowledging that IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman has been captured by Pakistani forces after fighter jets of both nations engaged in an air battle on Wednesday morning, concerns about his safety and return have been expressed by several politicians across the country.

While the 21 opposition parties which met in the wake of the rising tensions between the two nations expressed “deep concerns for the safety of our missing pilot” in the joint statement, political leaders individually too are speaking about it.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi said, “I’m sorry to hear that one of our brave IAF pilots is missing. I hope he will return home soon, unharmed. We stand by our armed forces in these difficult times.”

Stating that the wing commander defended his nation in total disregard of his personal safety, Union minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore prayed for his continuous well-being and early return.

While condemning the ruling BJP and its leaders for doing “petty politics” over the matter, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav write on Twitter, “When the all party meet happened, they were campaigning. When our pilot went missing, they were launching apps. The country demands that petty politics are set aside and our media acts responsibly so that our brave pilot is safely brought back home.”

Yadav further wrote, “I am praying for the safe return of our brave pilot. May God protect you and give you courage and strength. The nation stands with you.”

Meanwhile, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to suspend all his political activities till the missing IAF pilot returns home safely.

“PM Modi must suspend his political activities until #WingCommanderAbhinandan is returned safely. It can’t be business as usual with him crisscrossing the country at taxpayer expense making political speeches while our pilot is a Pakistani captive,” Abdullah said in a series of tweets.

The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said he had requested Opposition parties also to postpone their meeting in New Delhi.

“I had requested the opposition to postpone the meeting in light of the developments, especially after the news of our pilot being in Pakistani custody but they felt otherwise. I chose not to attend as a result,” he added.

Abdullah appealed to Pakistan to treat the Indian Air Force pilot well. “In the meantime, Pakistan please treat him as you would have us treat one of your men in uniform should he be unfortunate enough to be captured on this side of the border,” he said.

“Thoughts with the family, friends & colleagues of #WingCommanderAbhinandan. Prayers for his early & safe return home to all those eagerly waiting for him,” he added.

Stating that the best gesture by Pakistan to gain India’s trust would be by returning the pilot, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti wrote on Twitter, “Pakistan has expressed its intention to crack down on terrorism and initiate a dialogue with india. Perhaps the best gesture to gain Indias trust at this point would be the safe return of Wing Commander Abhinandan back home.”

While Congress leader Shashi Tharoor urged Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to treat the wing commander with decency and recollected the time Khan spoke to him about the neighbouring countries’ shared history, Aam Aadmi Party leader and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal prayed for the pilot’s safety.

Hoping that the pilot came back unharmed, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray wrote on Twitter, “One of our pilots is missing in action. My party, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena joins me in praying and hoping for the safe return of our pilot.”

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