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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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Operation Meghdoot: Role of Indian Air Force

Indian Air Force backed the Indian Army during Operation Meghdoot by supplying troops and stores

Ensign of Indian Air Force. Wikimedia commons
Ensign of Indian Air Force. Wikimedia commons
  • Operation Meghdoot’s objective was to capture the Siachen Glacier.
  • Indian Army expeditions were going on in the high-altitude region.
  • IAF was tasked with supporting the troops with backup and supplies.

Operation Meghdoot was launched in 1984, it aimed to capture the Siachen Glacier. It was quite a unique operation because of Siachen’s dreaded terrain and unforgiving climate. The mission was a successful one, India gained control over the Siachen Glacier.

India now controls the 70 kilometres long glacier and the three major passes west of it (Sia La, Bilafond La, and Gyong La. Whereas Pakistan controls the area west of Saltoro Ridge. The TIME magazine states, India has control over 1,000 square miles of territory because of its exceptional military operation.

You may also like: 20 Amazing Facts About Indian Navy

Siachen glacier, known as the third pole of the world, is one of the most dreaded places in the world. Mainly due to its temperature and terrain. Wikimedia commons
Siachen glacier, known as the third pole of the world, is one of the most dreaded places in the world. Mainly due to its temperature and terrain. Wikimedia Commons

IAF had played a major role in this operation. It used Il-76, An-12, and An-32 to transport troops and drop supplies to these extremely high altitude battlefields. Following which, Mi-17, Mi-8 and HAL Chetak would carry the same to the east.

IAF’s performance was incredible, taking into account how extreme the temperature and altitude are at Siachen. The operation is a saga which showcased such skill that can never be forgotten.

IAF's uncompromising valour made it possible for the Indian Army to capture the Siachen Glacier. Wikimedia commons
IAF’s uncompromising valour made it possible for the Indian Army to capture the Siachen Glacier. Wikimedia Commons

Role of Indian Air Force

When the first IAF sortie was launched to Siachen on 20th September 1978, Chetak helicopters used to supply stores to the on-ground Indian Army. That’s when a thought occurred to one of the IAF officers “Why not pick their emails for their loved ones back home?” They used to drop a string with a note saying “We are coming back in 10 minutes. Please write your letters and put them in a bag.”

This kind gesture of the Indian Air Force symbolized the brotherhood of ‘men in arms’. It also boosted the morale of Indian Army troops who were leading expeditions on the ‘third pole of the world’.

Also read: All you want to know about the ranks of Indian army

IAF operates from 60 bases across the country. Wikimedia commons
IAF operates from 60 bases across the country. Wikimedia Commons

IAF helicopters used to fly at the height of 16,000 feet, many times, the officers had to take oxygen directly from the pipe. They also had the job of taking injured troops back to base camp. However, it isn’t as simple as it sounds.

Finding the expedition parties in the never-ending desert of ice, then landing the helicopter on the lumps of snow were tasks that required unmistakable skill.

IAF is the fourth most powerful air force in the world. Wikimedia commons
IAF is the fourth most powerful air force in the world. Wikimedia Commons

How IAF operates in Siachen now

Indian Air Force has a far different set of procedures than that of the time of Operation Meghdoot. The operations are scientifically planned and executed meticulously.

  • IL-76s and An-32s supply stores to the men in Leh and Thoise from Chandigarh.
  • Thereafter, Mi-17 helicopters airdrop supplies to the lower level helipads at 17,500 feets.
  • Cheetahs then take over and ferry the supplies to helipads situated at 20,000 feet.