Amid rising tensions between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of Pulwama terror attack and subsequent developments, Punjab minister and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu has called for a dialogue with Pakistan. He counted on dialogue and diplomatic pressure as the long term solution to terror outfits operating across the border. "I stand by my conviction that dialogue and diplomatic pressure will count for a great deal in seeking a long-term solution to the presence and practice of terror outfits that operate within and across the border," the cricketer-turned-politician said in a two-page statement titled "We have a choice." Read | Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to return: What forced Pakistan to relent and announce release of the IAF pilot? On the heightened hostilities between the two nations, Sidhu advised to tread a line of caution in the charged atmosphere and said an escalation would lead to irreparable loss and both nations going to a point of no return. "The solution to terror is peace, development and progress and not unemployment, hatred and fear," he said, adding that fear has been among us these last days, an unwelcome guest. His statement came on the day when Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who Sidhu calls his friend, announced that IAF's captured pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will be released on Friday as a "gesture of peace". Earlier, Pak PM talked peace and invited India for a dialogue amid escalations across the border. The Congress leader from Punjab praised Khan for his gesture and tweeted, "@ImranKhanPTI Every noble act makes a way for itself. your goodwill gesture is \u2018a cup of joy\u2019 for a billion people, a nation rejoices. I am overjoyed for his parents and loved ones." @ImranKhanPTI Every noble act makes a way for itself. your goodwill gesture is \u2018a cup of joy\u2019 for a billion people, a nation rejoices.I am overjoyed for his parents and loved ones.— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) February 28, 2019 Pakistan detained Wing Commander Varthaman following a fierce engagement between air forces of the two countries along the Line of Control when his MiG 21 fighter jet was downed. A Pakistani F-16 was shot down in the process. Soon after ghastly Pulwama attack by Jaish-e-Mohammad in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed on February 14, Sidhu had asked whether an entire nation can be blamed for a handful of people, a comment that invited criticism from many leaders. Meanwhile, Congress party distanced itself from his comments and said the current atmosphere is not conducive for a dialogue with Pakistan. It also termed Sidhu's suggestions made in this regard as his personal opinion.