KARACHI: Twitterati from across the 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 Friday (today).
Journalist Barkha Dutt tweeted: “I think we should welcome this gesture from @ImranKhanPTI on the release of #Abhinandan. The door for de-escalation has been opened. And this is really not the time for dumb and needless gloating by tv anchors.”
She added: “Of course India’s key concern remains impunity with which Jaish E Mohammed& Lashkar operate in Pakistan and that has to be pursued firmly. But my view is India proved its point with the #BalakotAirStrike and now, with #Abhinandan coming home, its time to leave fight to diplomats.”
All Parties Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq wrote: “Welcome decision by Pakistan PM @ImranKhanPTI to release the captive Indian pilot as a peace gesture. Hope better sense prevails, the war clouds scatter and the #Kashmir dispute moves towards a peaceful resolution.”
Indian photojournalist Smita Sharma expressed her relief at the news of the Indian pilot’s return and thanked PM Khan.
“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,” Ms 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 PM Khan, 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 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.
Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2019