September '99     Vol 3      No 8     Reg No.SS-346

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Publisher & Managing Editor:
Ikram-ul-Majeed Sehgal

Chief Patron
Air Marshal (Retd)

Mohammad Asghar Khan

Lt Gen (Retd) SF Lodi

Brig (Retd)TH Siddiqi
Lt Gen (Retd) Imtiaz Waraich

Board of Editorial Advisors
Ardeshir Cowasjee

Arif Nizami
Ms Maleeha Lodhi
Ms Nasim Zehra
Hameed Haroon
Humayun Gauhar
Ambassador (Retd) Afzal Mahmood

Panel of Contributing Editors
Air Marshal (Retd) Ayaz A. Khan

Vice Adm (Retd) IF Quadir
Dr Shireen Mazari
Farhan Bokhari

Panel of Columnists
Col (Retd) EAS Bokhari
Col (Retd) Abdul Qayyum
Dr. Matiur Rahman
Ms Amina Jilani
Capt (Retd) A.A. Jilani

Executive Editor
Ms Ambreen Jahangir

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Imran N. Ahmed

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From the Desk of the Publisher

and Managing Editor

Dear Readers,

The shooting down of Pakistan Navy’s unarmed slow moving maritime reconnaissance aircraft by the Indians is an outright and blatant atrocity. In the sense of the aerial dimension, it spells terrorism. Evidence now available points to it being a well-planned ambush. Since it was flying at 7000 feet and at about 200 mph plus, the Indians estimated that the forward momentum of the aircraft after the missile hit would carry it into Indian territory. That is why two helicopters were waiting to carry away parts of the debris, the footage clearly showing the actions of the individuals removing the parts of the debris to be acting like thieves. No combat pilot feels good about shooting down an unarmed aircraft - and where was the warning? And why was it engaged over Pakistani territory? All the answers point to a most dastardly act, murder most foul of the 16 crew members, unsuspecting of the sneak attack in their own airspace. The tragedy is that we have not been able to exploit the incident and the blatant Indian lies even when they were exposed. Our media has performed miserably and it is high time some heads should roll. I am taking the liberty of re-producing from THE NATION a NEWS ANALYSIS written by me in mid-August 1999 entitled “A DASTARDLY ACT”.

Sometime near noon on August 10, 1999, an Indian MiG-21 shot down an unarmed French-origin Breguet Atlantique maritime surveillance aircraft of the Pakistan Navy near Badin, well inside Pakistani territory. Given that the crew did not have time to make even one distress call, the cowardly act was sudden and ruthless. That it was a pre-meditated, well-planned act of murder one cannot doubt. What prompted this dastardly act at this time can only be classified as one of calculated ruthlessness, either a quid pro quo vengeance killing by the Indian Air Force (IAF) to even the shooting down of two Indian combat jet aircraft near Kargil in the end of May or something more sinister or even both.

In this tragedy 16 naval personnel died, 5 officers and 11 other ranks. From the wreckage at the crash site it is obvious that the aircraft descended in a ball of fire. Since the aircraft was flying at 7000 ft on a North Easterly - South Westerly course, it was most probably attacked from a greater height from behind, this sneak attack giving the pilots of the patrol craft no chance at all. Soon after the shooting down two Indian helicopters came to the crash site and before our rescue teams could reach they removed some debris from the wreckage, ostensibly to show that the incident happened on their side of the border. The TV footage released by them show them clearly as acting as thieves. Their immediate arrival on the scene confirms that this was a well-planned ambush of an unarmed aircraft, a deliberate and cowardly act. Reacting angrily, the Foreign Minister Senator Sartaj Aziz reserved for Pakistan the right to retaliate as per the country’s choosing. The Indians first claimed the wreckage was on their side of the border but when it became transparent that their contention was a blatant lie they started to give various “spins” to the bloody event. The most ludicrous scene was that of the Indian Ambassador to the US trying to justify on CNN and BBC that the “spy” plane was meant to coordinate the smuggling of weapons and ammunition to India by locating Indian Border Security (BSF) posts along the border. That was his explanation as to why so many officers were on board the aircraft.

The Breguet Atlantique is a slow flying unarmed aircraft meant mainly for surveillance and anti-submarine operations. It has been operating along the southern border and maritime shores of Pakistan for over 25 years. Its routine flight plan is well known to the Indians. It’s normal complement would have two pilots, a navigator, an engineering officer and an electronic equipment specialist. During actual operations more officers may complement the crew, two officers actually under training. The other ranks are mainly flying crew and equipment specialists, there was nothing abnormal about the number on board. For all intents and purposes there was nothing out of the ordinary in its flight path which is normally circular or even elliptical. If indeed, the aircraft had strayed into Indian airspace, why was the warning not given as per international norms and practice? And if there was time for the crippled aircraft to turn back to Pakistan territory as the Indians claim why did not the pilots have time to say even one word? This cold-blooded murder came out of a sudden, drastic intervention without any warning, the Indian pilot destroyed 16 lives without any reason. In dying, our naval servicemen may have gifted one big bonus to the nation, the Indians have been shown up to be blatant liars and cold-blooded murderers with no remorse for flouting the norms of normal human behaviour. We should get French Aviation experts or even US FAA investigators to look at the circumstances and give their opinion to expose their disinformation for full public view.

What was the reason for this atrocity? Is there more to it than meets the eye? This was a deliberately provocative act meant to arouse Pakistan anger and maybe even retaliation. It is also meant to show India’s willingness to set aside international norms at will, it could be that they also probably wanted to gauge international reaction for further adventure. By all the logic one can summon it stands to reason that this was a meticulously planned operation, a bloody incident created to invite Pakistan reaction for all the world to see, a well-conceived trap. At the same time BJP needed to stoke its nationalist credentials pre-elections among the masses. However one thinks that it was more a local IAF operation without pre-sanction. Despite the widespread feeling of the need for revenge at the loss, we must temper our response in a manner that will expose the Indians for what they are - cowards who do no hesitate to attack the unarmed and the helpless, in fact do so with glee and then proceed to tell lies without the bat of an eyelash. We should be patient in exposing them to the world. We must not fall prey to the machinations but must beat them at their own game. We should hold our fire for the time being, we should react in our own time.






The views, opinion and recommendations expressed in the articles published in this magazine are entirely that of the author of that particular article, this magazine serves only as a neutral platform for healthy debate where contrary thoughts in print are considered an important cornerstone of the freedom of expression enshrined as the essence of democracy.

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