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DAWN/The News International, Karachi
India downs PN plane: 16 killed

By Sarfaraz Ahmed

KARACHI, Aug 10: All the 16 officers and sailors on board were killed on Tuesday when a Pakistan Navy training aircraft was shot down by two Indian fighter planes. The wreckage of the plane has been located 2-3 km inside Pakistan territory in marshy areas, Badin district, around 100 nautical miles off Karachi.

Those who were killed during their instrument flying training flight were identified as Lt Comdr Mehboob Alam, Comdr Farasat, Lt Rizwan Masood, Lt Azhar, Lt Zarrar, Sailor Mohammad Tariq, Sailor Nawazish, Sailor Mohammad Husain, Sailor Mohammad Sarwar, Sailor Aftab Ahmed, Sailor Mohammad Riaz, Sailor Wahid Iqbal, Sailor Mohammad Yasin, Sailor Mohammad Hafeez, Sailor S. Mehmood and Sailor M.N. Masood.

The plane - French-made Breguet Atlantic maritime patrol aircraft - had left PNS Mehran airbase in the city at 9.15am for a routine training flight to the coastal areas of southern Sindh. It was scheduled to return to its base after four hours.

The plane went missing at 11am after it made its last contact with the Karachi Airport Air Traffic Control at 10.50am. The helicopters sent out to search for the plane sighted its wreckage on the ground near Badin.

Pakistan authorities had in the day noticed the take-off of two Indian fighter planes over the marshy areas, but since it was a normal routine flight during peacetime none of those monitoring the ground radar had any inkling that the training plane would be intercepted, attacked or shot down.

The rescue teams that went to the area following the disappearance of the plane found the Atlantic debris strewn in an area of around one kilometre. The plane wreckage had created at least three big craters in the marshy area, and the helicopter that took the photographers of world media, including BBC and Reuters, found a sizable part full of red water, believed to be the blood of those killed in the plane.

According to one of the Naval officials who was first to reach the spot in the afternoon, the debris at some places was still burning.

He said blood had turned the colour of water into red. His account was later corroborated by a photographer who reached the spot with five other cameramen...


India hit plane in Pakistani territory, confirms NSA Satellite

12 August 1999

WASHINGTON (PPA): America's most secretive National Security Agency (NSA) satellite data have confirmed that Indian fighter planes shot down a Pakistani unarmed aircraft on Tuesday within Pakistani territory resulting in the death of 16 people. A secret National Security Agency spy satellite transcript leaked to selected American and Canadian journalists confirmed earlier reports that Indian control tower ordered its fighters to shoot down the Pakistan plane and return to base quickly.

Transcript recorded from the scene also indicates that Indian fighters also violated Pakistani airspace during their operation. PPA Special Correspondent has learnt from Washington sources that NSA officials have in their possession pictures as well as tapes of conversation between Indian MIG 21 pilots and ground control station officials. Observers believe that if the U.S. officials agree to release the transcript and satellite images, a lot of trouble could be created for the Indians. However U.S. State Department officials appear reluctant to do so officially for obvious reasons.

Meanwhile several radio operators in Washington State, USA and British Columbia, Canada reported to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, (CBC) and CBS News that they overheard radio traffic between ground controllers and Indian fighter aircraft during this week's attack on a Pak aircraft. They reported that the order was given to destroy the aircraft, but as it was out of weapons' range when the pursuit began, the next order was to chase the aircraft, which was reported as being "several miles" into Pakistani Territory and shoot it down once in range. The Indian aircraft reported firing and then reported "turning back to Indian Airspace" once weapons were released. This is further evidence that Indian forces violated Pak airspace in order to attack the aircraft. The pilots are reported to have been told over the air that "you never left our you understand?" to which the pilots both replied their agreement.

Indians also tried to get hold of the bodies. An Indian publication confirmed that Indian Border Security Force (BSF) personnel met with stiff resistance from the Pakistani Rangers on Tuesday evening and Wednesday when they tried to retrieve the bodies of Pakistani personnel whose plane was shot down by the Indian Air Forces on Tuesday. A senior Indian defense officer was quoted by India today as saying that Pakistanis fired at the BSF twice late on Tuesday and Wednesday. The BSF returned the fire. It appears after taking back some of the broken parts of the downed aircraft Indian forces also tried to get hold of some of the mutilated bodies of Pakistanis to justify their claim that the plane was shot down in the Indian area but they failed.


Diplomats in Pakistan visit wreckage site of downed unarmed Pakistan Navy plane

12 August 1999

MUSAFIRKHANA, Pakistan (AFP): Pakistan on Thursday took a team of foreign diplomats on a tour of the site where a Pakistan navy patrol aircraft crashed after it was shot down by Indian jets. Military attaches from the embassies of 28 countries including the United States, Britain, Canada, Germany and France, flew to the site in five helicopters, officials and witnesses said.

With the help of the Global Positioning System, instruments, charts and maps, the attaches were briefed about the location of the site to show that it was within the Pakistani territories.

According to the ISPR, they were told about the downing of the plane by Indian MiGs without any warning to the aircraft flying well within the territorial limits of Pakistan.

Then in the afternoon, helicopters took the military attaches to the site, about 100 miles southeast of Karachi. They were shown the debris of the plane scattered over about one kilometre.

According to an ISPR spokesman, the Indian fighter planes and helicopters made two attempts to reach the wreckage site after having removed some pieces of the plane late on Tuesday.

He said it had been learnt through the talks between the directors general of military operations of the two countries that the Indian warplanes had shot down PN's Atlantic at 11.17am.

He said the film footage of a foreign news service showed that some of the wreckage was still aflame when the Indians were removing the debris to take it to New Delhi. India had conducted that sortie at 12.30pm, he added.

The second sortie, he said, was made around 2.15pm when the Pakistan planes, taking rescue teams, were searching for the wreckage. Although, he pointed out, the rescue teams had noted the presence of the Indian planes, they did not have any inkling that Atlantic had been downed by Indian planes or some of the wreckage had already been removed by them.

Second attempt was made on Wednesday morning when two Indian jets, providing cover to as many helicopters, attempted to approach the site, said the spokesman, adding that it was at that time that Pakistan troops, who had taken position by then, fired missiles at the intruding aircraft.

The marshland, strewn with the debris of the Atlantic patrol aircraft which Pakistan said was shot down by Indian jets on Tuesday inside Pakistan territory, is located 30 kilometers (20 miles) from this southern coastal village.

India has said the plane was knocked down when it intruded into Indian airspace.

The military attaches took photographs and gathered technical data with Global Positioning System instruments at the site which is being guarded by army and naval troops.

Battle-ready troops equipped with anti aircraft guns and missiles stood alert and many were positioned in trenches and newly built bunkers, an AFP correspondent witnessed.

Pakistani army and naval officials briefed the military attaches with the help of maps telling them the aircraft was flying within its territory when it was attacked.

"These are the pieces of wreckage lying and the aircraft was well within our territory. Here we are around three kilometers inside the Pakistan territory," Brigadier Rashid Qureshi told the diplomats.


Defence Journal, Sept 1999
Kargil to Kutch - India's shame

An overview of India's shameful behaviour in the recent episodes in Kargil and Kutch

by Lt Gen (Retd) SARDAR FS LODI

After the Washington accord of 4 July 1999, between President Clinton and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif the possibility of a major conflict in South Asia between India and Pakistan had been avoided. The process of de-escalation had begun. Gradually the Mujahideen started withdrawing from their tactically strong positions astride the heights overlooking India's strategic military road supplying her troops in Kargil, Siachin and Leh. The guns started to fall silent and the civilian population returned to their destroyed homes.

But, what remained and could not be erased was India's shame and utter discomfiture which could not be logically explained to their public. There was India, a large and powerful country on its way to dominating and controlling South Asia and beyond by force of arms with some support and nods from the West, was unable to eject a few hundred Mujahideen, the Kashmiri freedom fighters from the heights of Kargil inspite of moving a disproportionately large number of troops, guns and fighter aircraft to the area. In repeated attacks India was losing officers and men killed and wounded with hardly any gains to show for the heavy losses. This went on day after day forcing an Indian Colonel in Kargil to remark that "we are dying like dogs here".

To save her standing at home and abroad, in the short time available before her troops were forced to withdraw from their illegal occupation of the Siachin Glacier area, India rushed out for help and appealed to the United States and other countries of the G-8 to come to her aid. It is no secret that she was bailed out by the United States. The G-8 countries were, however, not very specific in their remarks. Having shamelessly pleaded for foreign assistance to help her in Kargil and when it was received and worked in her favour, India, conforming to the role of a cheap local bully, wished to show an aggressive stance in her behaviour towards Pakistan and with regard to Kashmir.

This was done with specific objectives, firstly to raise the sagging morale of her troops, second to show their public that Indian forces had gained a victory in Kargil and third to take advantage of the Kargil episode in the forthcoming general elections in India. The result of this policy was renewed firing across the Line of Control and greater suppression within Indian-held Kashmir. This new Indian aggressive stance travelled from Kargil to the coastal area of the Rann of Kutch where it resulted in the most shameful act perpetuated by India's Armed Forces in utter violation of International Law and norms of civilized behaviour attributed to elected governments. Indian Air Force fighter aircraft shot down an unarmed Pakistan Naval aircraft with the loss of 16 lives and total destruction of the aircraft.

After having shot down the unarmed Pakistan Naval plane at about 11 a.m. on 10 August 1999 India's actions thereafter were also not honourable and certainly unworthy of the largest democracy in the world. India first announced that the Pakistan Navy aircraft had violated Indian airspace, therefore, it was shot down. India sent in two helicopters to pick up some pieces of the wreckage which were proudly photographed with their Prime Minister outside his office in New Delhi. These were later flashed to the world in an attempt to prove that the plane was shot inside Indian territory.

The Indian Defence Minister, Mr. George Fernandes, in an attempt to justify this unprovoked action made a totally incomprehensible statement, that the Pakistan Naval plane had made a hostile gesture by turning towards the two Indian fighters in a bid to ram them. He wanted the world to believe that a large unarmed propeller driven aircraft could turn towards the faster and armed jet fighters. Surprisingly the same statement was repeated byIndia's High Commissioner (Ambassador) in London while talking to the BBC. The most absurd and irresponsible statement was given by India's Air Chief, Air Chief Marshal A. Y. Tipnis, who had rushed to the Indian Naliya Air Base, from where the MiG-21 fighters had taken off to shoot the Pakistan Naval plane. Tipnis told reporters that the Pakistani plane "had been on an information gathering mission for a possible waterborne incursion. It was a planned mission to collect ground information. One possibility is that if there were an offensive planned ... the plane might have been spotting for creeks to use, to send in waterborne intruders". Inspite of all these combined lies India had eventually to admit that the plane was shot down inside Pakistan air space. She did so without batting an eyelid or a word of apology. Perhaps because the Western World's reaction to India's blatant act of aggression was somewhat mild. Instead of blaming India it cautioned both sides. The International Herald Tribune in its editorial on 14-15 August referred to it as "the new Indian-Pakistani aerial bumps of the border". Justice in International Law and Morality may often depend on commercial and other interests and beliefs.

Pakistan Navy's French-built Breguet Atlantic airplane had been flying in the area at an altitude of about 7,000 feet for nearly two hours on a training mission. It was clearly visible on the Indian radar screens as a large aircraft during that period. It had an endurance of four hours and would be in its training area for another two hours. It is the opinion of some military experts at home and abroad that the decision to shoot down the unarmed propeller driven slow aircraft within Pakistan territory was finally cleared and authorised by the Indian government in New Delhi. It was an act of infamy which should have been condemned in the strongest terms by the world community.

In accordance with the 1991 Indo-Pakistan air agreement no military aircraft were to fly within 9 kilometers of the international border. But if any aircraft unwittingly strayed across the border, it was to be warned and a complaint lodged with the government and service HQ of the other side. There was no provision for shooting down the aircraft even when it crossed the international border. To do so when the aircraft was within its own airspace, though within the 9 km area of the border, was not justified under any bilateral or international law, India is surely aware of it.

What would happen, I asked a senior officer during my recent trip to Islamabad and Rawalpindi, if a Pakistani submarine was to sink a surface ship of the Indian Navy during their training cruise in the Arabian Sea, pick up some floating debris and claim that the ship was sunk in Pakistan's territorial waters after it was warned but showed aggressive intent. Later on the truth would emerge but the ship would have been sunk and a clear message sent across the border. There was no comment from the officer except that Pakistan did not wish to escalate the situation any further and instructions had been issued for military aircraft to stay 10 kilometers from the international border.

A good decision which every right thinking person will no doubt applaud. But what is the mood in New Delhi, do they still wish to retrieve their honour further or return to the conference table for a meaningful dialogue to solve all outstanding problems, as the United States President is now urging them to do. India must understand that the problem of Jammu and Kashmir state is the core issue of discontent between the two countries and it must be solved for peace to return to South Asia. It is a disputed territory, recognised as such by the world community and the United Nations.

It is no point India claiming that the state is an integral part of India. The people of Indian-occupied Kashmir have shown by their sacrifices and their 11-year old uprising that they refuse to acknowledge India's claim and wish to exercise their right to decide which of the two countries to join - India or Pakistan. A right that is being consistently denied to them. They are held down by force of arms. India has 730,000 army and para-military troops in Kashmir who are using harsh and brutal methods to suppress the people. The only answer is a peaceful settlement in accordance with the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir who have been suffering for the last 52 years.

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