Pakistan will release captured Indian air force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman today as a gesture of peace towards New Delhi and a de-escalation effort in favour of regional peace.

The move was announced Thursday by Prime Minister Imran Khan at a joint session of Parliament, a day after Pakistan shot down two Indian aircraft that had crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and captured Wing Commander Abhinandan.

Sources informed that Abhinandan will be handed over at Wagah border crossing to officials of the Indian High Commission.

On the other side of the border,  Indian officials said they were "extremely happy" that their pilot would be released.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj commented that "India does not wish to see further escalation of the situation". Prime Minister Narendra Modi is yet to make a public comment.

Earlier, PM Imran Khan, while addressing the joint session of Parliament, urged India not to escalate the situation as he announced to free the captured Indian pilot

“Don’t take this any further, Pakistan will be forced to retaliate," he warned, noting that the de-escalation efforts made by Pakistan should not be considered as weakness. 

"Despite us opening the Kartarpur corridor, we received no response from India," he said.

"When the Pulwama attack happened, we were blamed within 30 minutes," the premier lamented. "I asked them to share evidence."

"We did not want to inflict any casualty on India as we wanted to act in a responsible manner. […] I had said that if India does something then we will respond."