Amid the escalating tensions between India and Pakistan with a new turn of events reported almost every second, Pakistan PM Imran Khan has reiterated his peace stance towards India by announcing the release of captured Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan on Thursday afternoon. Terming the step as a ‘peace gesture’, the Pak PM declared in parliament that the captive Indian Wing Commander will be released from Pak army custody on Friday, reported ANI.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan: As a peace gesture we are releasing Wing Commander Abhinandan tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/J0Attb6KDC
— ANI (@ANI) February 28, 2019
Pakistan PM Imran Khan announces release of #IAF pilot tomorrow; Imran Khan was addressing joint session of Pakistan National Assembly
— Doordarshan News (@DDNewsLive) February 28, 2019
Khan made the announcement during a joint session at the Pakistan National Assembly and it was received with applaud from the attending parliamentarians.
While his Indian counterpart PM Narendra Modi is yet to issue an official statement regarding the top IAF official’s capture and the subsequent decision of release, it must be remembered here that yesterday in a press conference Imran Khan had presented the option of a peace dialogue between the two contending nations.
Prime Minister Imran Khan offers India to settle issues through dialogue.
— Govt of Pakistan (@pid_gov) February 27, 2019
Abhinandan Varthaman was captured after his jet crashed
On Wednesday, IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was held by Pakistan Army after he accidentally landed in Pakistan side of the Line of Control (LoC) after his MiG-21 jet crashed due to a mid-air technical glitch, killing six other IAF officials. Abhinandan was discovered in a bruising state by a mob of locals who immediately launched a physical attack on him until Pak army officials escorted him.
Later, a video was released by the Radio Pakistan. This video purportedly shows captured Indian Air Force pilot. The video shows him to be blindfolded with his hands tied behind. Upon being prompted the alleged captured pilot introduces himself as Abhinandan and gives his service number. He also further says that he is a flying pilot and that his religion is Hindu. When prompted to give further information, the pilot says that he cannot reveal any more information. He asks whether he is with the Pakistani Army, to which a reply is rendered, “yes”. The authenticity of the video remains to be ascertained. Much later, another video surfaced on social media where Abhinandan was seen having a conversation over tea with a Pakistan army official at the other end of the camera. Abhinandan asserted in that video that he has received good treatment from the Pakistan army. He held his calm and politely refused to divulge any personal information about himself despite being repeatedly enquired.
Abhinandan’s bravery was admired by the netizens who termed him a true, firebrand patriot. Soon, the appeal to #BringBackAbhinandan started trending on Twitter alongside #SayNoToWar, the peacemaking campaign initiated by rational-minded citizens from both sides of the border.
Twitter reacts to Pak PM’s decision
Khan’s decision is being lauded by Indian and Pakistani citizens alike who are welcoming the promptness with which he perfectly displayed diplomacy, a necessary step at this juncture. Veteran Indian journalists and media houses are expressing their appreciation for the Pak PM on social media, while commoners are joining in to recognise the act.
We in India may not like this, but in terms of pure optics, @ImranKhanPTI at the moment is winning the day by taking the moral high ground .. we have a strong case on terror but too many of our leaders busy calculating votes at the moment..
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) February 28, 2019
I think we should welcome this gesture from @ImranKhanPTI on the release of #Abhinandan. The door for deescalation has been opened. And this is really not the time for dumb and needless gloating by tv anchors
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) February 28, 2019
In fact, Imran Khan’s party PTI has floated the hashtag #PakistanLeadsWithPeace on Twitter.
Today at a time of having an external threat,our nation is united.Before my oath as PM I'd said if India moves one step,we will go 2 steps forward bcuz our region is poorest in the world & for prosperity we need peace but India didnt respond. @ImranKhanPTI#PakistanLeadsWithPeace pic.twitter.com/R0mhYu8xIL
— PTI (@PTIofficial) February 28, 2019
Meanwhile, some Indians are bringing up the topic of captive Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav in this context, who is still in Pak custody.
Welcome the decision to release IAF Pilot.
Hope Pak PM release Kulbhushan Jadhav too.. #Kulbhushanjadhav
— rituraj bhuyan (@riturajbhuyan_) February 28, 2019
However, the Pak PM’s diplomatic measure is also raising a lot of relevant questions among Indians, who are clearly divided in their reaction. While one section of Indians is stepping forward with the appreciation for the peace gesture and urging the Indian government to retaliate the same, another section is fixated on branding the step as a ‘surrender’ on Pakistan’s part.
Great news on the IAF pilot’s release … I never thought I will live to see a day where the Pak PM is more dignified, balanced and sensible than the Indian side … sign of the times !
— Anish Unnikrishnan (@anishunni) February 28, 2019
@khushsundar there is nothing to learn from pak pm. Why r u showing ur love for him?1 thing to note that pak will have to give #Abhinandan back bcz they are compelled to do it bcz of #GenevaConventions &pressure.he is trying to show his country high morally &u r helpg by ur tweet https://t.co/je1K6pgHhc
— SAURABH PATEL (@100rabhpatel4u) February 28, 2019
Amid celebrations all over India, we eagerly anticipate the return of India’s brave son Abhinandan.