When the video showing Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthman being paraded by Pakistani security personnel and civilians (with his face covered with blood) must have made a billion Indian hearts cry when it went viral in social media sites on Wednesday. For many, the memory of Captain Saurabh Kalia who was martyred in Pakistani prison was still green.
But come Thursday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announces that Abhinandan is to be released on Friday. (He touted it as a peace gesture.) The move must have surprised many who had felt that the pilot would be used as a bargaining chip.
But analysts say that Imran Khan is making virtue out of a necessity. Pakistan had no option but release him at the earliest. Here are the points they offer in support of their argument:
- Pakistan was under tremendous global pressure to do something to deescalate the situation
- Abhinandan was captured at the time he was part of the squad that was pushing back a Pakistani aggression, with their F16 fighter jets intruding into air space to attack Indian military installations. They even reportedly deployed laser guided missile(s) which narrowly missed their target.
- Abhinandan was showcased as prized asset on Pakistani television screens, making the whole world take a note. Countries like the US and Germany called for his immediate release.
- Hence, Pakistan boxed itself into a corner and had little elbow room to make the pilot as a bargaining chip.