New Delhi, Feb 28 : Opposition leaders including two former Chief Ministers of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday welcomed the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's announcement that the captured Indian pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan will be released on Friday with Mehbooba Mufti even describing the cricketer-turned-politcian as a 'statesman'.
"Pak PM has exhibited real statesmanship today. It is time for our political leadership to step up and take measures to deescalate the current situation," Ms Mehbooba tweeted close on the heels of Pak Prime Minister stating in a joint session of Parliament in Islamabad that this will be done "as a first step to open negotiations" .
However, Ms Mehbooba camouflaged her remarks with the usual reference to the issues in Jammu and Kashmir. "People of J&K are living under unimaginable duress. How much longer will we suffer for?," wrote Ms Mufti.
She further said: "The decision to hand over Wing Commander Abhinandan is a great gesture and should not be seen in isolation. It also comes at a time when Pak could have chosen to further escalate an already tensed situation. I see it as a mark of reconciliation. Our leadership should reciprocate".
Mr Abdullah also took to the micro blogging site said - "Very glad to know that. Wing Commandar Abhinandan will be heading home. I will wait for him to be back on Indian soil before I welcome him back but I am greatly relieved that PM Imran Khan announced the imminent release of our pilot".
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also tweeted saying - "I pray and hope brave son of India Wing Commander Abhinandan will be reunited with his family tomorrow. The country is proud of his courage".