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Peace talks should not be hindered by Pathankot attack: Experts


New Delhi: There will be questions raised on the recently resumed official dialogue between India and Pakistan, due to the terror attack at Pathankot air base. As per experts, these incidents can be best handled by continuing the peace process that has just begun.

India has long maintained terror originating from across the border should stop for the peace talks to deliver. However, the recently resumed dialogue process, and the surprise visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Pakistan on his counterpart, Nawaz Sharif’s birthday, appeared to write new chapters in the annals of bilateral diplomacy.

The attack at the frontline Indian Air Force (IAF) base in northern Punjab, around 30 km from the international border, coming within days of Modi’s maiden visit to Pakistan, might have made a dent, but the balanced response from both the countries have raised hopes. The five terrorists who staged the attack were killed in a gunbattle that lasted for 15 hours. Three Indian security personnel were also killed.

Pakistan immediately condemned the attack and expressed its commitment to partner with India to eradicate terrorism. Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh, while stating that terror will be given a “befitting reply”, added that India wants peace.

Former Indian Army chief, General VP Malik, described the attack as “minor” and said it was unlikely to disrupt the dialogue process. He also said that following Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Lahore, the stakes are high as the blame or credit will go completely to him.

“We must look at the prime minister’s visit as a strategic engagement; with one engagement everything cannot fall in place,” General Malik said, adding: “The second thing is that this particular event is a minor one, so its impact on the dialogue process will not be much.”

The former army chief also said that the attack could not have been planned following Modi’s Pakistan visit. “Such attacks are planned months in advance…” he said.

Stressing on the requirement of the dialogue process, General Malik said: “At the moment what has happened is that the prime minister’s personal involvement is at stake… Earlier we could blame the foreign policy, but now fingers will only be pointed at him.”

Happymon Jacob, Associate Professor of Disarmament Studies in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), said that the talks should be continued not only along the formal lines but also through back channels to counter the menace of terrorism.

“Every time a dialogue process is started between India and Pakistan something happens, and, this time is no exception. It shows militant organisations on that side are not happy with the dialogue,” Jacob told.

“India should respond to this attack by enhancing surveillance and defence capabilities and at the same time not calling off the talks,” Jacob said.

Stressing on the need for back channel talks, he said: “There should be back channel talks with the Pakistan Army and ISI as well… Now that they have taken up this ambitious dialogue, it should be concluded.”

From the other side of the border, Yaqoob Khan Bangash, a history professor at Lahore’s Information Technology University, spoke on similar lines, adding that India accepts that the Pakistani state is not behind terror attacks.

“I don’t think the Indian side is going to withdraw from the dialogue process. The Indian side has accepted Pakistan’s argument that all terrorist attacks are not from the Pakistani state. If India had not recognised this argument, they would not have gone forward with the talks,” Bangash told.

Bangash said the Pakistan Army is largely on board the peace talks, adding that continuing the dialogue will be the best reply to the terrorists.

“There is a constituency in Pakistan that does not want India-Pakistan peace, but the two governments should not bow down to these entities. If we stop talking, it will encourage them”.

“The government of India should strengthen the hand of Pakistan in fighting terror. The Indian government knows the political government is in support of peace with India,” Bangash said, adding that the two countries should share intelligence.

Bangash also said that Modi’s Pakistan visit had a huge positive impact. That will be one of the factors pushing forward the talks.

“Modi’s visit to Lahore changed the scenario quite a bit. He has shown he is a statesman,” Bangash added.(Anjali Ojha, IANS)

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IAF Jets carry out Drill on Agra-Lucknow Expressway

IAF's Mirage 2000
IAF's Mirage 2000 stationed at Gwalior Air Base. Wikimedia

Lucknow, October 25: Several aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Tuesday touched down and took off as part of a special drill on a 4-kilometre stretch of the Agra-Lucknow Expressway in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao district.

The exercise by the IAF, in collaboration with the Uttar Pradesh government, saw a C-130 J Super Hercules transport aircraft make a short landing on the highway, around 65 km from Lucknow.

Garud Commandos disembarked from the aircraft, on foot as well as on a Gypsy, onto the highway-cum-runway.

It took off again, after which around 15 fighter jets touched down or made low overshoot over the highway.

This is the first time a transport aircraft participated in such an exercise in India.

The jets included three Jaguar Deep penetration strike aircraft, two formations of three aircraft each of Mirage 2000s and two formations of three aircraft each of Sukhoi-30.

The exercise culminated with the C-130 J returning for another short landing.

C-130J-30 SUPER HERCULES tactical airlift aircraft stationed at IAF’s Air Base at Hindon. Wikimedia

“This is an important exercise for war as well as peacetime in case of emergencies like providing humanitarian assistance, evacuation or distribution of relief material,” spokesperson Gargi Malik Sinha said.

On May 21, 2016, a Mirage 2000 had touched down on the Yamuna Expressway.

A number of highways have been cleared by the government for being used as an airstrip for emergencies.(IANS)

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7 killed, after Mi-17 V5 an IAF Chopper Crashed in Arunachal

IAF chopper Mi-17 v5
IAF chopper Mi-17 V5, at Yelhanka, Air Force Station. Wikimedia

Tawang, October 6:  Seven Indian Air Force personnel were killed after a Mi-17 V5, IAF Chopper Crashed in Arunachal Pradesh on Friday.

Tawang district Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar Meena said the IAF Chopper Crashed around 6.30 a.m. killing all the seven people on board.

The chopper was on a routine Air Maintenance Mission, Meena quoted a Defence officer as saying.

The crash site is located at some four-to-five hours drive from Tawang. “It is a forested area,” Meena said adding that the bodies are being brought to the helipad near Tawang.

“We are told that there were no civilians and all were defence personnel,” he said.

Earlier in July an Indian Air Force chopper engaged in a flood rescue mission crashed near Papum Pare district in the hill state killing four persons including three IAF crew and one India Reserve Battalion (IRB) personnel.

The frequently changing weather condition in Arunachal Pradesh makes flying of choppers difficult in the area and there have been several incidents of crashes in the hill state in the past.

The then Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Dorjee Khandu, and four others also died in an IAF Chopper Crashed in the hill state in 2011. (IANS)

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India has ‘Plan B’, ready for any challenge from China, says Indian Air Force Chief B S Dhanoa

ACM Dhanoa
Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa.

New Delhi, Oct 5: Indian Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa on Thursday said India is prepared to counter any threat from China and was also ready to face a two-front war.

Addressing the annual press conference of the IAF ahead of Air Force Day, the Indian Air Force Chief said they have a ‘Plan B’ to cater for the shortage of strength if there is a situation of war on two fronts.

“We need a strength of 42 squadrons to carry out full spectrum operations, but it doesn’t mean we can’t fight a two-front scenario. There is a Plan B,” he said when asked about being prepared for a two-front war.

He also said the possibility of a two-front war in the current geopolitical scenario is low.

He said “our capability is adequate” to counter any threat from the Eastern side — China.

The Indian Air Force Chief also said more than assets, the question was what China can and cannot do operating from Tibet against India.

He also said that Chinese troops are still stationed in the Chumbi valley, of which Doklam is a part, and hoped that they return soon.

Dhanoa said: “We are not in physical face-off but in Chumbi valley their troops are still deployed.”

“Hope they will withdraw in future after their exercises are over,” the IAF chief said.

He also said that there was no face-off in the air during the over 70 days long standoff and there were no air violations.

“I take this opportunity to assure the nation of our sacred resolve in defending the sovereignty of our skies,” he added.(IANS)