Of late, there has been a greater frequency of Indian aircraft landing at Karachi Airport.

By AKHTAR NAVEED SYED | September 2022

Since early July, there have been reports of Indian aircraft making emergency landings at Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport. On social media, this was described as a moment of betrayal and something out of the ordinary. Day in and day out passenger and cargo flights make unscheduled stops worldwide. What seems to be mysterious here is that somehow Pakistan’s current leadership is facilitating such instances for self-serving purposes.

On July 5, SpiceJet’s New Delhi to Dubai flight apparently faced technical issues, whereby it was diverted to Karachi. On July 17, IndiGo’s Sharjah to Hyderabad (India) flight was diverted to Karachi due to suspected engine failure. On August 15, a charter plane carrying 12 passengers from India landed at the Karachi Airport. The aircraft was apparently registered in the Marshall Islands.

There is understandable mystery surrounding these incidents. Why do so many Indian aircraft develop technical faults these days and then choose Karachi (located in a neighbouring country) as their destination. Why cannot they land at a convenient airport within their own country? There are so many airports in the region.

It us also surprising that when aircraft belonging to various Indian air carriers are so well-maintained and professionally looked-after, why do they develop faults so frequently?

This must have raised eyebrows in the defence setups in both India and Pakistan. Have the concerned quarters done anything about it?

Can the conspiracy theories making rounds be actually true? If one follows their gut feeling when reading a news story, such a conclusion would be quite acceptable. On the other hand, if one looks at the whole issue objectively and with the bigger picture in mind, this is what any mature leadership would do. Will a doctor look the other way if a person is dying?

Given the fraught relations between the South Asia powerhouses, especially after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s infamous move on India-occupied Kashmir in August 2019, along with the Pulwama incident in February 2019, it is understandable the so-called patriots would egg for an eye-for-eye response. However, on August 6, in the Arabian Sea near the Gwadar coast, nine Indian sailors were rescued by Pakistan Navy personnel and a Belgian tanker. Should such events be made into seeds of a hoax?

The government of Shahbaz Sharif is endeavouring to work with India on several issues. Regarding this, back-channel talks have been mentioned, which recently hit a dead end. This avenue of negotiations was taking place even in the previous government led by former prime minister Imran Khan. Thus it is safe to say that cooking up stories will only result in further chaos for the country.

One question arises, if the naysayers were to be correct why is China silent on such an issue? Given Beijing - during Khan’s tenure - honoured Shahbaz as the most trusted Pakistan official with respect to the CPEC, would not the country’s benefactor raise hell when the honouree is the PM. Even though China has boiling tensions with India, it keeps their working relationship intact via vibrant trade ties. This needs to be noted as since long India has been engaging the US in the Quad, which is a grouping that also includes Australia and Japan whose singular aim is to counter China and its increasing global clout.

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The writer is a freelance journalist based in Islamabad and a former Dawn and Times of Oman staffer. He can be reached at akhtarns@gmail.com

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