October 23, 2011



On October 23,2011, an Indian military helicopter with four military personnel on board strayed into Pakistani air space in the Skardu region of Gilgit-Baltistan due to bad weather.

2. According to official accounts of the Pakistani Army, the occupants of the helicopter consisted of one Lt.Col, two Majors and a junior commissioned officer. On detecting the crossing of the helicopter into Pakistani air space, planes of the Pakistani Air Force took off and made it land in the Skardu area.

3. After questioning the occupants of the copter regarding the circumstances under which it crossed over into Pakistani air space, they were allowed to take off and return to the Kargil area of India the same day within a few hours.

4. According to official accounts emanating from New Delhi, the Armies of the two countries sorted out the incident in a professional and cordial manner by using the hotline that exists between the Directors-General of Military Operations of the two countries.

5.Even though the incident was unintentional, the Pakistan Army could have played it up as having a sinister motive and detained the copter and its occupants ostensibly for long interrogation.

6. At a time when the Pakistani Army is under tremendous pressure from the US to mount operations against the sanctuaries of the Haqqani network, Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, its Chief of the Army Staff ( COAS ), could have exploited the incident to mount a PSYWAR against India in order to project as if Pakistan continued to face a military threat from India.

7. The Pakistan Army resisted that temptation, treated the incident in the low-key in which it deserved to be treated, consciously avoided dramatizing it and let the chopper and its occupants fly back to India within a few hours.

8. This speaks highly of Gen.Kayani as a military professional. His positive and cool reflexes as reflected during the incident need to be noted, acknowledged and hailed by India. The way the Pakistani military and political leadership resisted the temptation to exploit the incident for ulterior purposes needs to be highlighted and praised.

9. We do not hesitate to criticise what we see as the negative traits and reflexes of the Pakistan Army in matters relating to India. In equal measure, we should not hesitate to highlight and hail the positive traits and reflexes of the Pakistani military leadership. The manner in which the Pakistani military leadership handled the incident is worthy of high praise.

10. One is reminded that during the crisis in Indo-Pakistan relations after the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in December,2001, Gen.Kayani was the Director-General of Military Operations in Rawalpindi.It was reported that the US was highly impressed by the cool manner in which he handled the crisis. He has shown a similar cool temperament on October 23.

11. Should the good vibrations generated by the Pakistani gesture remain an isolated act without follow-up? I don’t think so. This should be used as a starting point for setting up a more substantial military-military relationship between the armies of the two countries as a distrust-reducing measure. This is the time for us to consider inviting Gen.Kayani to visit India.

12. One should note too the commendable restraint shown by the media of the two countries in reporting on the incident. This augurs well for the future.( 24-10-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre for China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com .Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )


Ghatotkacha said...

The Chopper release only shows that the jihadi General did not want to fight a war on both flanks. Both the Americans and the Indians are too powerful for Pakistan to fight and win, even individually, with or without nuclear weapons. With the irritated Americans threatening the Western side the jihadi General did not want to give any excuse for his mortal enemies, the Indians to co-ordinate with Americans in attacking Pakistan.

I am only surprised that the jihadi General was not smart enough to get our Prime Minister to declare that he would “loose his sleep” if America attacks Pakistan. After all the jihadi General got his enemy, President Karzai of Afghanistan to express military support for Pakistan.

The release of the Indian military chopper was not due to some vague altruistic inclination on behalf of the jihadi General. It was just plain military strategy.

Anonymous said...

Well articulated and sentiments therein reflect true Indian sentiment verging on to the extent of inviting Kayani (though there is nothing wrong in it).

It was difficult as also easy for Pak Army to take the decision to release the chopper and the crew. Difficult in the backdrop of criticism of inaction at Abottabad. Easy because intrusion had taken place in inaccessible isolated mountainious areas around Skardu having no terrorist high value targets and intrusion having reamined limited to 20 km only. 20 Km areas around the LOC would be well known to each other as that would have been passed over many times by UAVs. Thus intrusion was not militarilly damadging. Pak army had something to tell the country that Indians were force landed !

when decision can be taken at the level of two teams playing the game on the same field why should the third empire be employed. That is the advantage of developing relations between the two Armies as suggested by Mr Raman.

jeevan said...

Whatever the reason behind it, at least this is a positive gesture shown by the Pak general. I think we should welcome it. Because being a Pakistani army general this is a very calm and cool step shown by him in the manner he handled the situation. Who knew brothers once, will become deadly enemies. Who knows the future; we may become good friends once again.
This one step shown by this guy shows that how the steps taken by the good or bad leaders can put the foundation of future.

AJ said...

Has IAF forced any Pak Helicopters to land when they strayed in our territory?

Anonymous said...

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