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.
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”.
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”.
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.
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.
All Parties Hurriyat Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also welcomed Imran’s announcement, and hoped that better sense would prevail after that.
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.
Another anchorperson Kashif Abbasi said: “Let this be the first step towards de-escalation.”
Senior journalist and columnist Zahid Hussain said the prime minister had “made us proud.”
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.
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.