KARACHI: Amid rabid jingoism and fervent warmongering in India, sane voices are making themselves heard – thanks to social media, Twitter in particular.
While India’s mainstream media, especially electronic media, has been baying for blood by whipping up war hysteria, peace-lovers took to the popular microblogging site in an attempt to douse the fire of hatred.
They hailed the rescue of Indian pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman by Pakistani troops from a lynch mob after his jet was shot down in Azad Kashmir on Wednesday.
And on Thursday when Prime Minister Imran Khan announced to release and hand over Abhinandan to India as a “gesture of peace”, they welcomed the move as “real statesmanship”.
Indian Punjab’s Chief Minister Amarinder Singh expressed his joy and said Abhinandan’s release would serve as a stepping stone for goodwill.
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wing Commander #AbhinandanVarthaman to be released by Pakistan: 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. pic.twitter.com/s1wWOI5hZu— ANI (@ANI) February 28, 2019
Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu welcomed Premier Imran’s move saying that “every noble act makes a way for itself… your goodwill gesture is a cup of joy for a billion people, a nation rejoices”.
@ImranKhanPTI Every noble act makes a way for itself... your goodwill gesture is ‘a cup of joy’ for a billion people, a nation rejoices...— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) February 28, 2019
I am overjoyed for his parents and loved ones.
Bollywood actor Meera Chopra said Imran had set an example that “we all want peace”.
Socio-political activist and columnist Sudheendra Kulkarni said Premier Imran has “proved to be a Man of Peace”.
Prime Minister @ImranKhanPTI Sahab:— Sudheendra Kulkarni (@SudheenKulkarni) February 28, 2019
Please accept my heartfelt kudos. You have proved to be a Man of Peace.
My prayer - Now You and PM @narendramodi ji can, and should, together make it WIN-WIN for both New India and Naya Pakistan.#WelcomeBackAbhinandan#SayNoToWar pic.twitter.com/Pr6We13UKI
Tanvir Sadiq, political adviser to former chief minister of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) Omar Abdullah, thanked the Pakistani leader and said it would be “sad news for warmongers”.
Emmy nominated Indian reporter Barkha Dutt said New Delhi should welcome the gesture which has led to the opening of door to de-escalation.
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
Another former chief minister of IOK, Mehbooba Mufti, also praised the prime minister and said it was time for the Indian political leadership to take measures to de-escalate the situation.
My statement on the recent developments. https://t.co/PLajxxeyIz— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) February 28, 2019
All Parties Hurriyat Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also welcomed Imran’s announcement, and hoped that better sense would prevail after that.
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— Mirwaiz Umar Farooq (@MirwaizKashmir) February 28, 2019
Pakistani journalists also hailed the announcement about the release of the captured Indian pilot.
TV anchor Hamid Mir called it “great gesture in the interest of peace” and voiced hope that it would lead to dialogue.
Pakistan is ready to release Indian pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan great gesture in the interest of peace now PM @ImranKhanPTI and @narendramodi must talk to each other on phone and defuse the tension— Hamid Mir (@HamidMirPAK) February 28, 2019
Another anchorperson Kashif Abbasi said: “Let this be the first step towards de-escalation.”
As a unilateral gesture of peace,PM imran Khan announces to release the Indian pilot in Pakistani custody. Let this be the first step towards de-escalation— Kashif Abbasi (@Kashifabbasiary) February 28, 2019
Senior journalist and columnist Zahid Hussain said the prime minister had “made us proud.”
Great peace gesture by Prime minister Imran Khan for ordering release of the captured Indian pilot. He made us proud.— zahid Hussain (@hidhussain) February 28, 2019
Independent analysts also hailed the move which they said might lead to lowering of tensions between the two countries.
South Asia expert Michael Kugelman said the “bold & brave move” move has paved the way for de-escalation.
By announcing that the captured Indian pilot will soon be released, Imran Khan has paved the way for deescalation. It’s a bold & brave move.— Michael Kugelman (@MichaelKugelman) February 28, 2019
Premier Imran's ex-wife Jemima Goldsmith also shared her joy over Islamabad's decision to release the Indian pilot.
Pak-India tensions at fever pitch
PAF aircraft shot down two Indian jets on Wednesday in Pakistani airspace, while a day earlier India Air Force planes had recklessly violated Pakistan’s airspace and dropped payloads in a mountainous Pakistani village and Delhi dubbed it “air strike on the biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) militant group” in Pakistan.
The Pakistani military exposed India’s fictitious claim and invited “anyone and everyone – including foreign diplomats, military attaches and UN military observers” – to visit the area where the Indian aircraft dropped bombs and see if any training camp existed there.
Though the Indian bombs did not cause any major damage or casualties, Pakistan vowed to retaliate against the flagrant violation of its airspace, fuelling fears of a disastrous confrontation in the region.