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Turkish President Erdogan appreciates Pakistan’s peace efforts

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ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has hailed the release of captured Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman by Pakistan.

The Turkish president said that reducing bilateral tensions was in the interest of both the countries.

He said he had spoken to Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi on Pak-India tensions, and that Turkey was ready to play its role in de-escalating the situation.

Tensions between India and Pakistan reached an all-time high following Indian incursions into Pakistani airspace and subsequent downing of two Indian aircraft by Pakistan Air Force.

Indian warplanes intruded into Pakistani airspace in the dark of night on February 26, however, they turned back swiftly soon after Pakistan Air Force scrambled its fighter jets.

In order make the escape, fleeing Indian jets dropped their payload in a hilly forest area near the northern Pakistani town of Balakot, about 40 km (25 miles) from the Line of Control (LoC).

The Indian government was quick to take credit for a successful “attack” and putting the death toll to over 300. Pakistani officials, as well as the locals, rejected the silly claims, inviting local and international media to visit the site of the so-called attack with around a dozen trees downed.

On February 27, Pakistan Air Force downed two Indian jets and captured an Indian Air Force pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, as Indian Air Force once again ventured into Pakistani air territory.

Pakistan, however, released the captured pilot on Friday as a “gesture of peace”.

But tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours still prevail, with the United States and other global powers mediating to de-escalate them.