Harbhajan Singh, Vinod Kambli welcome Imran Khan’s decision to release captured IAF pilot
Kambli even hoped that the move goes a long way in establishing peace between the two neighbours.
Updated - Mar 1, 2019 10:08 am
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday declared that Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will be released on Friday as a ‘peace gesture’. Varthaman’s MiG-21 Bison jet fell on the side of the Line of Control (LoC) on Wednesday during engagement between the air forces of the two countries that happened following raids by the IAF across the LoC in the wee hours of Tuesday.
Khan, a cricketer-turned-politician, made the announcement of releasing the IAF pilot at a joint parliamentary session in Pakistan. The country’s lawmakers, as well as international observers, lauded PM Khan’s announcement and a few Indian cricketers – current and former – also welcomed his move.
Former Indian batsman Vinod Kambli and senior cricketer Harbhajan Singh expressed their pleasure over the Pakistan government’s announcement on Twitter. Kambli even hoped that the move goes a long way in establishing peace between the two hostile neighbours. Their relationship plummeted in the wake of a suicide terror attack on a CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14, killing over 40 personnel.
“We have captured Indian pilot. As a peace gesture, we will release him tomorrow,” PM Khan said to a thunderous applause from his lawmakers. Harbhajan, who recently demanded that India should boycott their World Cup match against Pakistan at Old Trafford in England on June 16 to protest the Pulwama attack called it a piece of ‘great news’.
Here is Harbhajan’s tweet
— Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) February 28, 2019
Kambli calls Imran ‘old time counterpart’
Kambli, who made his international debut against Pakistan led by Imran Khan in Sharjah in 1991, appreciated the move by Imran whom he called his ‘old time counterpart’ and hoped the move would lead to bringing peace between the two nations in the long run.
Here is Kambli’s tweet
Good to see a gesture like this being made by the PM of Pakistan and my old time counterpart @imrankhanpti to return Wing Commander #AbhinandanVarthaman back to India. Hope this goes a long way in bringing peace between the two nations. #WelcomeBackAbhinandan #SayNo2War
— VINOD KAMBLI (@vinodkambli349) February 28, 2019
The Indian cricketing fraternity found itself divided over playing Pakistan in the World Cup with former captain Sourav Ganguly besides Harbhajan wanting India to boycott the Pakistan game. Other legends like Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar though want India to play the arch-rivals in the tournament and avenge the Pulwama attack by beating them.