Muhammad Sohail Ahmed
IT was 10 Aug 1999 at 1117 hrs that shot down Pakistan Navy long-range maritime patrol aircraft undertaking
training of the crew near Nawabshah area bordering India. Two Mig-21 fighter jet aircraft engaged the LRMP as they flew from Naliya airbase, only 40 miles from the border. Although the debris of the aircraft fell in Pakistan’s territory, the Indian helicopters flew in to pick up some docs and debris from the ground and rushed back to claim that the aircraft had gone down in the Indian territory. 16 Navy officers and sailors were martyred in the biggest action after the 1971 war. Later international court of justice disallowed Pakistan’s claim for compensation of 60 million US $ as Indian side refused to debate this matter in ICJ. Therefore, the case was rejected, thereby setting a precedent that India would not hesitate to shoot down a Pakistani aircraft and kill the crew if it was believed to be on a spying mission. It needs to be remembered that two Indian jet fighters, Mig-21 and Mig-27 were shot down a few weeks before this event in Azad Kashmir area. However, the captured pilots were returned to India.
The historic perspective suggests that Indian air force aircraft would not hesitate to violate Pakistan air space and initiate hostilities against it. What does it all suggest? The recent incursion of Indian Mig-21s and SU-30 in Pakistani air space is a confirmation that Indian Establishment wishes to remain aggressively poised against Pakistan, irrespective of the world order. Pakistan has the will and potential to thwart the efforts to destabilize the region. Thanks to our powerful air defence and valiant fighters flying JF-17 thunder aircraft who not only engaged the potential killers but also arrested pilot Abhinandan. The aggressor was neither punished nor hanged to death to take the revenge of 16 Navy officers and men. The episode culminated in award of military honours to Abhinandan from govt of India. Any violators of Pakistan air space must be dealt with severely in line with the precedent set by the Indian government.
The question arises where is the most affected area in the region to sense the fall out effects of Indian leadership war mongering expansionist designs. New developments on the Indian side include the decision of the Indian government to construct three more air bases in the Indian occupied Kashmir, purchase of 700 beyond visual range air to air missiles (BVRAAM) and fresh procurement of 18 heavy all-weather long-range fighters, SU-30 bringing their strength to 240. The cost of 18 jets is 936 million US $ which is over and above the existing defence budget of IAF. As per the data compiled by the military balance, India spends $ 52 billion in the year 2018 on its defence and stands the fifth-highest spending country in the world. Its Air Force stands fifth based on the number of aircraft. According to military balance, 2017 Indians have set a target of IAF from 32 squadrons to 42 squadrons including fifth-generation fighter aircraft. It is the only country in the world which plans to fight two different countries in the neighbourhood (combined population of 1.3 billion) simultaneously namely Pakistan and China.
The focus of the military design is not only on land or air; it is equally on the naval side. The future of the great imagination covers all the littoral states of the Behr-ul-Hind while controlling the sea lines of communications, located on east and west of the sub-continent. As mentioned earlier the Naliya airbase has remained a continuous threat at sea and over the creek areas. Naval deployment with aircraft carriers to augment air attacks on Pakistan from south warrant commissioning of an aircraft carrier for Pakistan Navy. Indian government has decided to construct Dessa airbase in Barmar near Pakistan border in the south. It is a threat to land, air and naval forces of Pakistan both in peace and war. There is a need to prepare a tit for tat response against these airbases owing to less reaction time and the clear policy of Indian government to go for aggressive operations. The fact remains that such policies against a nuclear weapon state is like playing with fire. The capability gives rise to change of mind or intention which at times is not as per the estimates or speculations.
Does the most interesting question lie in guessing the future chain of events after the recent Indian move to illegally claim annexation of Kashmir against the UN resolution, against the Muslims of Kashmir and Pakistan and all ethical codes of conduct or laws? it must be remembered that India has previously claimed Junagarh, Manawadar, Hyderabad Daccan as annexed to its territory against all laws, norms and codes. Pakistan’s legal and moral stance on these issues is very clear and well known to the international community. It can be concluded that Pakistan should anticipate the future events and prepare for a comprehensive plan to steer the righteous course of action. The Muslims of this region love Islam and Allah loves those who love Him. Future of Pakistan and Kashmir is bright while the actions of the Indian government will ultimately doom the dextrous actions. Pakistan must execute the Indian spymaster, Kulbhushan Yadev, establish airbase close to international border across Naliya and Dessa in addition to Azad Kashmir to deploy tit-for-tat assets including air defence, fighter jets equipped with BVRAAM, helicopters and ECM platforms. Pakistan Navy should embark on building aircraft carriers supplied with fighter aircrafts to give India a befitting response against any incursion or adventure, making these assets available in a multi-dimensional challenging environment.
—The writer is a freelance researcher and (R) Commodore of Pakistan Navy.