Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said Thursday an Indian pilot captured this week will be released Friday as a peace gesture.
Pakistan shot down two Indian aircraft Wednesday when they crossed the Line on Control near the disputed Kashmir region. They captured Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman and tweeted a video of him with a blindfold and what appeared to be blood on his face.
Pakistan's armed forces spokesman Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor responded with a picture of Varthama, saying he was "being treated as per norms of military ethics."
There is only one pilot under Pakistan Army’s custody. Wing Comd Abhi Nandan is being treated as per norms of military ethics. pic.twitter.com/8IQ5BPhLj2— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) February 27, 2019
"If there is de-escalation with the return of this [Indian] pilot, Pakistan is willing to consider this," Qureshi said.
Khan has called for talks with India in an attempt to relax tensions that have risen to heights not seen in decades between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.
"From here, it is imperative that we use our heads and act with wisdom," Khan said in a televised statement Wednesday, adding that neither country can afford a "miscalculation."
The last time the nations' air forces engaged in combat was during an armed conflict in 1971.
The escalation in violence began Feb. 14 when a vehicle loaded with explosives rammed into an Indian Central Reserve Police Force convoy, killing dozens. India has blamed Pakistan for harboring Jaish-e-Mohammed, a militant group that claimed responsibility for the attack within its borders. Pakistan has denied any connection with the terrorist group.
The U.N. Security Council said Wednesday it's spoken with "different parties" about the situation, all of whom are calling on both countries to practice restraint.
"The message coming out of those discussions is on the need for both countries to do whatever they can to de-escalate the situation," U.N. Security Council spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.