Hole in airspace security

A Pakistani helicopter violated Indian airspace on Sunday, entered about 250 metres into Indian territory, hovered for full five minutes, then flew back safely into Pakistani airspace. Some TV channels have telecast pictures of the helicopter along with a passenger who has been identified as the “prime minister” of “Azad”, that is, Pakistan-occupied, Kashmir. India’s ground troops are claimed to have fired at the chopper with “small arms”. Unharmed, the chopper along with its pilot and passenger safely flew back into Pakistan, even as two IAF fighters were being “scrambled” to intercept it. This is disquieting news. Every country keeps ready some fighter aircraft which are called FLAs or frontline aircraft which can take off at a few moments’ notice for intercepting intruding unknown foreign aircraft and forcing them to land in India. In a sensitive area like Jammu and Kashmir which is the special target of Pakistani regulars and Pakistan-backed terrorists, the vigilance should be round the clock and the Indian response to an intruding aircraft should be immediate, giving the intruder no scope to flee. This has not happened.
There is an agreement between India and Pakistan that prohibits flying of a ‘rotary-wing aircraft; i.e., helicopters within one km and a ‘fixed-wing’ aircraft, i.e., fighters, bombers and reconnaissance planes, within 10 kms of each country’s airspace. This was clearly violated by the Pak chopper. The IAF is expected to be aware of an unknown and unidentified foreign aircraft approaching Indian airspace and immediately fly ‘interceptors’ either to chase away or force-land the intruder. Some reports say that the intruding chopper was painted white, suggesting it was a non-military aircraft. But Pakistan may well send a civilian aircraft on a reconnaissance mission to avoid suspicion or minimize the danger of being straightaway shot down.
The airspace violation incident of Sunday should be taken seriously by the authorities concerned and all loopholes should be plugged to eliminate any chance of a recurrence of such incidents in future. As Pakistan gets more and more exposed as a State promoting terrorism, it is getting desperate to harm India in every conceivable way. India’s lack of a coherent and consistent Pakistan policy comes in handy for Islamabad. The Pakistani representative made much in the UN General Assembly of India for having first agreed to a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the two countries and then suddenly calling it off after the brutal murder of Indian policemen. If New Delhi had stuck to its basic policy that ‘terror and talks cannot go on simultaneously’ this predicament could have been avoided.

Thursday, 4 October, 2018