People from both sides of the border hail the gesture for peace shown by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Twitterati from both sides of the eastern border erupted in appreciation for Prime Minister Imran Khan's announcement that Pakistan will release the captured Indian Air Force officer, Wing Commander Abhinandan, on March 1.
"In our desire for peace, I announce that tomorrow, and as a first step to open negotiations, Pakistan will be releasing the Indian Air Force officer in our custody," PM Khan said during a joint parliamentary session held on Thursday.
Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu termed the act "noble" and said that the goodwill gesture "is a cup of joy for a billion people" of India.
"Every noble act makes a way for itself ... your goodwill gesture is ‘a cup of joy’ for a billion people, a nation rejoices ... I am overjoyed for his parents and loved ones," he tweeted soon after news of the decision broke out.
Indian news outlet, Asia News International (ANI) quoted Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh as saying: "I'm very happy, I had demanded his release earlier too. This is going to be a step towards goodwill and I hope this will be lasting."
Markandey Katju, a former judge of the Supreme Court of India, says he has become an admirer of Prime Minister Imran Khan after listening to the premier's "wise and restrained speech" about de-escalating tensions with India.
Responding to a tweet about PM Khan's announcement that Pakistan will release the captured Indian pilot on Friday, the ex-judge wrote on Twitter that while he was formerly a critic of Prime Minister Khan, this was no longer the case.
Indian photojournalist Smita Sharma expressed her relief at news of the Indian pilot's return and thanked the premier.
"Amid all the surround sound and claims of victory by chest thumping scribes, just so relieved to hear that #AbhinandanVartaman will be back home tomorrow. Thank you @ImranKhanPTI," Sharma wrote.
Indian defence analyst and former army colonel Ajai Shukla was all praise for the way Pakistan handled the conflict on the "perception" front, terming Islamabad the comprehensive victor in this regard.
"MoD briefing, to announce release of Wing Comdr Abhinandan, has been pre-empted by Imran Khan, who announced it earlier. Now MoD briefing “postponed”. Whatever happens in real battle, Pakistan has comprehensively won the perception war. At every stage, their PR was ahead of ours," he tweeted in commendation.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, too, complimented the prime minister, saying he has "exhibited real statesmanship today".
"Pak PM has exhibited real statesmanship today. It is time for our political leadership to step up & take measures to de escalate the current situation. People of J&K are living under unimaginable duress. How much longer will we suffer for?" she tweeted.
Indian novelist Krishan Partap Singh went so far as to say that the prime minister had outplayed his Indian counterpart.
"Never seen a Pakistani PM so outplay an Indian PM so completely," he wrote.
Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari lauded the "amazing statesmanship" demonstrated by the prime minister who she said does not need "jingoistic slogans".
"PM IK once again shows his amazing state[s]manship & confidence in Pak nation & state & announces release of Indian POW. This is the confidence of a [leader] who believes in his nation's strength & does not need jingoistic slogans. Let world know Pak is a peace loving confident nation," the minister said.
Singer and activist Fakhre Alam said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government has "scored massive wins" over the last 48 hours and expressed gratitude that the country finally has a government "devoid of personal interests and selfish goals".
"PM @ImranKhanPTI government has scored massive wins in military, politics, diplomacy, morality and statesmanship in the last 48 hours. What a huge paradigm change. Finally a government devoid of personal interests & selfish goals. Pakistan UP on all fronts in this misadventure," he tweeted.
Advocate Waqqas Mir hailed the "fantastic step" taken by the premier and asked the Indian leadership to "stop the war hysteria now", adding that he is glad the pilot will be reunited with his family.
"Fantastic step: Pakistan PM Imran Khan announcing before Parliament that Wing Commander #Abhinandan will be released tomorrow. Modi must stop the war hysteria now. Glad to see that a solider will be reunited with his family. We can all have tea without war. #Pakistan #India," tweeted the lawyer.
Journalist Owais Tohid also appreciated the "great gesture for peace" shown by Pakistan to announce the pilot's release and the messages of peace sent to India repeatedly.
"Great Gesture For Peace by Pakistan ...Indian pilot #AbhiNandan to be released tomorrow.. Delighted to see the way PM @ImranKhanPTI trying to handle the dispute by repeatedly sending peace messages to India," said Tohid.
Senior journalist and analyst Mazhar Abbas termed the decision as the premier's "biggest goodwill gesture".
"Pakistan decided to release Indian pilot. PM Imran Khan['s] biggest goodwill gesture. Well done IK," he said.
Senior columnist and analyst Zahid Hussain also praised the "great peace gesture" shown by the prime minister in announcing the pilot's release and said that he had made the nation proud.
"Great peace gesture by Prime minister Imran Khan for ordering release of the captured Indian pilot. He made us proud."
Fatima Bhutto, an author and niece of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, termed the decision a "bold and humane move".
"I am so uplifted by the compassionate and mature Pakistani response today and over the past few days. I have long been a critic but today the government’s move can only be commended by anyone, Indian or Pakistani, who is a true believer in peace," she said in a second tweet.