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His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Image Credit: Twitter

India-Pakistan cross-border fight continues on Day 3 with heavy firing reported across the Line of Control in Kashmir’s Poonch sector, according to India Defence Ministry sources. An Indian pilot in Pakistan Army custody is the focus of the latest developments between the nuclear-armed neighbours. Follow the latest updates here.

What happened on Day 1 and Day 2

8.02 pm

PSL will be held in Pakistan as scheduled

The Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches to be held in Pakistan from March 7 will be held as scheduled. Ehsan Mani, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), at a press conference in the presence of all six owners of the league, announced that Pakistan leg of the event will be held as planned.

6.05 pm

Mohammad Bin Zayed calls India and Pakistan leaders

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, highlighted the need for India and Pakistan to deal wisely with recent developments and give priority to dialogue and communication.

Shaikh Mohammad’s remarks were made during separate telephone conversations with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

He exchanged talks on recent developments in the India-Pakistan arena. Shaikh Mohammad underlined the importance of dealing with these worrying developments, and working towards easing tensions between the two countries, prioritising dialogue and communication between the parties.

He stressed the UAE's will to support positive relations between the two neighbouring countries, noting the common historical and cultural ties that brings them together.

Shaikh Mohammad underscored the UAE's keenness on ensuring peace and stability in India-Pakistan ties, expressing his great confidence in the two countries' leadership, prioritising peaceful dialogue in dealing with the developments that have occurred in the past few days.


Pakistan to release Indian pilot

“We are releasing Wing Commander Abhinandan tomorrow as a peace gesture,” says Pakistan PM Imran Khan.

His announcement is seen as a great gesture in a bid to de-escalate tension between Indian and Pakistan after two Indian fighter jets were shot down on Wednesday following India’s air strike on an alleged terrorist camp inside Pakistan on Tuesday.

At the same time, Imran also cautioned that the situation with India should not get out of hand otherwise Pakistan will have to retaliate. Imran said that he also tried to call Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday on the phone because ‘escalation is not in our interests nor in India’s.’

Imran reiterated that all issues should be resolved through dialogue. “Despite us opening the Kartarpur corridor, we received no response from India," he added.


No consular access sought, want him back immediately: India

India has not asked for consular access to the IAF pilot captured by Pakistan, and is insisting on his unconditional and immediate return, government sources said on Thursday, reported PTI.

They asserted that there was no question of any deal on the return of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.

The sources said Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has to walk the talk on investigating the February 14 Pulwama attack and that India wants immediate, credible and verifiable action against terrorists and their proxies.

"India has not asked for any consular access to the IAF pilot. We want him back immediately," a source said.

"The IAF pilot has to be repatriated unconditionally and immediately. There is no question of any deal," he said.


Pakistan willing to consider returning Indian pilot: minister

Pakistan would be prepared to return the Indian pilot shot down and captured this week if it helped ease the crisis with its neighbour, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi told Pakistani television station Geo TV on Thursday.

"We are willing to return the captured Indian pilot if it leads to de-escalation," he was quoted as saying.

He also said the Saudi foreign minister was expected to visit Pakistan with a special message from Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who visited both Pakistan and India earlier this month.

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Shah Mahmood Qureshi Image Credit: AP

Qureshi makes 'urgent' phone call to Chinese FM

Beijing: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi made an "urgent" phone call to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi to update him about the tensions between Pakistan and India, Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, reports PTI.

During the phone call, Wang briefed Qureshi on China's efforts to promote peace talks and reiterated his hope that Pakistan and India would exercise restraint and "earnestly fulfil" their commitment to prevent the escalation of the situation, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Qureshi's phone call came as tensions between India and Pakistan rose Wednesday after Pakistan claimed it shot down two Indian fighter jets over Pakistani air space and arrested a pilot in response to Indian counter-terrorism in Balakot.

"Late at night on February 27, 2019, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi made an urgent call to State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi to update him on the situation between Pakistan and India," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

Qureshi made the phone call after Wang held extensive talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday on the sidelines of the Russia, India, China (RIC) Foreign Ministers meeting in the Chinese city of Wuzhen.

Swaraj forcefully raised the terror strike issue with her Chinese counterpart and said the Pulwama attack is the direct result of the "impunity and cover" provided to the Jaish-e-Muhammed terror group by Pakistan.

Swaraj's meeting with Wang came a day after India destroyed a major Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) terror training camp in Pakistan. China, a close ally of Pakistan has repeatedly foiled India's attempts to brand JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN.

12. 40pm

Will decide on status of Indian pilot in couple of days

Pakistan on Thursday said that it will decide on the status of captive Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman "in a couple of days", IANS reported.

Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said that the Indian pilot, who was caught on Wednesday, was "safe and healthy".

"India has raised the matter of the pilot with us. We'll decide in a couple of days what convention will apply to him and whether to give him Prisoner of War (POW) status or not," he said.


'India will live as one, fight as one, win as one': Modi

"India will live as one, grow as one, fight as one, win as one," said Indian Prime Minister Modi during a video interaction with party workers.

Modi's remarks came a day after the Opposition accused the BJP of politicising the sacrifices of the armed forces, prompting the ruling party to claim that Pakistan is using its statement to project that India's political leadership is not united in the fight against terror.

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Image Credit: Social Media

"The enemy tries to destabilize us, carries out terror attacks, they want to stop our growth. We all countrymen are standing like a rock to counter their evil designs," he said.

"We have to be hardworking in all sectors. India is grateful to all those who are protecting the nation. It is because they are there, the nation can reach new levels of development," he said.

"We have trust in the capability of our armed forces. So, it is very necessary that anything that dents their morale or allows our enemy to point a finger at us is not done," the prime minister said during a video interaction with BJP workers from across the country.

"Our country's soldiers are displaying their bravery at border and outside it as well. The country is standing with its soldiers," he said.


Trump says hopefully India, Pakistan conflict coming to an end

US President Donald Trump said on Thursday he hoped the conflict between India and Pakistan will be coming to an end, after the two nuclear powers clashed across a contested border in the disputed Kashmir region.

Speaking at a news conference in Vietnam after a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump said he had some "reasonably decent" news from India and Pakistan. He did not elaborate.

World powers have urged restraint as tensions escalate following tit-for-tat air strikes this week after a suicide car bombing that killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Feb. 14.


Routine flight operations start at Srinagar, Jammu

After being suspended on Wednesday, routine commercial flight operations started on Thursday at both the Srinagar and Jammu airports, reports IANS.

"Seven commercial flights landed and four took off from Srinagar in the morning. All flights during the day are scheduled on time," an official at the Srinagar international airport said.

Flight operations also started normally to and from Jammu airport after these were suspended a day earlier when the Indian Air Force decided to seal the airspace in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.


Operation of Samjhauta Express suspended

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Passengers, arriving from Pakistan by Samjhauta Express train, wait for custom-check at Attari railway station, near Amritsar, Monday, Feb 25, 2019. Image Credit: PTI

Pakistani authorities have suspended the Samjhauta Express train service between Pakistan and India until further notice, an official said Thursday, amidst tense bilateral ties in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack.

The train departs on Monday and Thursday from Lahore.

"The operation of Samjhauta Express has been suspended today (Thursday) in view of the prevailing tensions between Pakistan and India," Pakistan's Foreign Office (FO) spokesman said in a statement.

The biweekly train was scheduled to depart from Lahore with 16 passengers.

"Samjhauta Express will resume its operations as soon as the security situation improves between India and Pakistan," the FO said without giving any specific date for resuming the train service.

The FO statement came after a spokesman of the Railways said early in the morning that the train service scheduled to depart for India at 8.00 AM (local time) was cancelled.

Dawn news reported that the train embarked on its journey from Karachi but stopped at Lahore railway station after officials suspended its service.

The Samjhauta Express, named after the Hindi word for "agreement", comprises six sleeper coaches and an AC 3-tier coach. The train service was started on July 22, 1976 under the Shimla Agreement that settled the 1971 war between the two nations.


Defense chiefs to meet minister

India’s three service chiefs to meet Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman shortly,


Wasim Akram urges peace between nations

Former Pakistan cricket team captain Wasim Akram took to twitter to appeal for peace between Pakistan and India. “With my heavy heart I appeal to yours, India, Pakistan is not your enemy, Your enemy is our enemy! How much more blood needs to be spilled before we realise we are both fighting the same battle. We need brothers in arm if we want to beat this war on terror,” he has tweeted.


Thai Airways cancels Europe flights

Thai Airways International said on Thursday it had cancelled more than a dozen flights to Europe after Pakistan closed its airspace amid rising tensions with India, with both claiming to have shot down the other's military jets, reports Reuters.

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Stranded passengers wait at the check-in area at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok on February 28, 2019. Image Credit: AFP

Thai flights to and from cities in Europe were cancelled because they had been scheduled to fly over Pakistani airspace on Thursday, Thai Airways said in a statement.

The cities affected included London, Munich, Paris, Brussels, Milan, Vienna, Stockholm, Zurich, Copenhagen, Oslo, Frankfurt, and Rome.

In addition, all flights to and from Pakistan were cancelled on Thursday, the airline said.

Pakistan closed its airspace after India and Pakistan both claimed to have shot down the other's fighter jets on Wednesday, with Pakistan capturing an Indian pilot a day after Indian warplanes struck inside Pakistan for the first time since a 1971 war.


Heavy firing across LoC in Poonch

Jammu: There was heavy firing on Thursday between Indian and Pakistan across the Line of control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district, the Defence Ministry said.

"At around 6 a.m. today, Pakistan initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation by shelling mortars and firing small arms along the Krishna Ghati sector," Defence spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Devender Anand said here.

The Indian army retaliated effectively and strongly. Firing exchanges stopped around 7 a.m., he added.

Authorities have shutdown all educational institutions within 5 km of the LoC and the international border in Rajouri, Poonch and Samba districts.


Canada urges India, Pakistan to engage in dialogue

Ottawa: Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has urged India and Pakistan to exercise maximum restraint to avoid any further military escalation over rising tensions between the two countries.

In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Freeland said that "Canada is gravely concerned about rising tensions between India and Pakistan", Xinhua news agency reported.

"Dialogue between India and Pakistan is needed to identify a durable diplomatic solution and maintain peace and security in the region," the minister said.