Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday evening announced that Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, who was captured by his country on Wednesday after a series of airborne clashes with India, will be released on Friday. The announcement comes even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not yet broken his silence on the subject.
Tweets praising Imran Khan’s “gesture for peace” flooded the internet as soon as the decision to release Varthaman was announced.
Shortly after the announcement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar awards for outstanding work in science and technology. Although the Bharatiya Janata Party tweeted a cryptic bit of Modi’s speech (“The pilot project has been completed. It has to be made real, this was just practice”) that was aimed to be a comment on Pakistan’s announcement, there were many users who criticised the prime minister for being busy with an award function instead of addressing the ongoing India-Pakistan crisis.
On Thursday morning, Modi addressed BJP workers at 15,000 locations via video conference. During his address, he made some veiled references to India’s security, while attacking the Opposition, but did not address the subject directly.
But there were others who thought the credit for Varthaman’s release belonged to the Indian prime minister, calling it a “diplomatic victory”.
Others pointed to the fact that while the release of the officer was mandated by the Geneva convention, handing over terrorists like Hafiz Saeed or Masood Azhar will be the real gestures of peace.
Before Pakistan announced that it will release the Air Force pilot, United States President Donald Trump had said that he had received “decent news” on the India-Pakistan crisis, adding that “peace is probably going to be happening”.