Pakistan announced Thursday that it will free captured IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman as a peace gesture, hours after a strong message from India demanded his unconditional release, largely de-escalating tensions between the two neighbours.
At a joint media briefing in New Delhi, top officers of Indian Army, Air Force and Navy said the armed forces are on high alert for any security challenges, but refused to give any direct answers to questions on whether Pakistan's decision to release Varthaman could be seen as easing of tension.
Separately, Prime Narendra Narendra Modi, in an apparent reference to India's February 26 pre-dawn air strikes on a terror camp in Pakistan, said a "pilot project" was recently carried out and now a "real one" has to be done.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's surprise announcement to a joint session of Parliament that Varthaman will be released Friday, was greeted by loud thumping of desks by the lawmakers. His foreign minister said Khan was also willing to talk to Modi on phone to talk peace.
However, India appeared in no mood to have talks with Pakistan, saying it first wants action from Islamabad on combatting terrorism. New Delhi had also made it clear that Varthaman cannot be a bargaining chip and demanded his unconditional and immediate repatriation.
CNBC-TV18 caught up with Richard Rossow, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Priya Pillai, international lawyer & consultant; Manoj Kumar Sinha, Director of Indian Law Institute & an expert on international law; Talmiz Ahmad, former diplomat; Arjun Subramaniam, retired Air Vice Marshal; Shashank, former foreign secretary and PK Barbora, retired Air Marshal, to discuss the road ahead for both the countries.