Indian pilot released in 'peace offering' PAKISTAN TRIES TO EASE TENSIONS.
PAKISTAN has handed over an Indian pilot captured after his plane was shot down by the military amid a dramatic confrontation between the rival countries over the disputed Kashmir region.
Officials brought the pilot, identified as Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, to the border crossing with India at Wagah and handed him back.
On the Indian side of the border, officials greeted the pilot, who was in a dark blue suit, accompanied by a representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Islamabad has said that the handover was a gesture of peace that could defuse tensions and avoid another war between India and Pakistan. Mr Varthaman was shot down on Wednesday in the Pakistani-held area of Kashmir.
Meanwhile, India has banned the largest political and religious group in Indian-controlled Kashmir in an ongoing crackdown on activists seeking the end of Indian rule in the disputed region.
Authorities imposed a security lockdown in parts of the region yesterday, including central areas of the main city of Srinagar, in anticipation of protests against Indian rule.
India's home ministry also issued a five-year ban on Jama'ate-Islami on Thursday night, accusing the religious group of being an "unlawful association". Police have arrested at least 400 activists and leaders.