Pakistan says Indian Air Force violated airspace, escalating tensions

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Pakistan military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor addresses a press conference in Rawalpindi, April 17, 2017. (AP/File)
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Photos shared by Pakistan army spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor of the ‘payload’ released by what the spokesman described as “hastily escaping Indian aircrafts.” On Tuesday morning, the military said Indian jets had violated its airspace but Pakistan scrambled jets in response. (Photo courtesy: OfficialDGISPR/Twitter)
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Photos shared by Pakistan army spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor of the ‘payload’ released by what the spokesman described as “hastily escaping Indian aircrafts.” On Tuesday morning, the military said Indian jets had violated its airspace but Pakistan scrambled jets in response. (Photo courtesy: OfficialDGISPR/Twitter)
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Photos shared by Pakistan army spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor of the ‘payload’ released by what the spokesman described as “hastily escaping Indian aircrafts.” On Tuesday morning, the military said Indian jets had violated its airspace but Pakistan scrambled jets in response. (Photo courtesy: OfficialDGISPR/Twitter)
Updated 27 February 2019

Pakistan says Indian Air Force violated airspace, escalating tensions

  • Pakistan scrambled jets in response, India “hastily escaped”, Military spokesman says.
  • Indian news agency says 12 jets entered Pakistan and destroyed “terror camps”

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s military said on Tuesday Indian jets had violated the de facto border between the two countries but “released a payload” and “hastily escaped” after Pakistan scrambled its own jets after them.
The early morning assault, which Pakistan’s army spokesman said had not caused any damage or casualties, comes after days of simmering tensions between Pakistan and India over a Feb 14 suicide bombing in the disputed Kashmir region in which 40 Indian paramilitary troopers were killed.
The attack was claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group. New Delhi blamed Islamabad for the assault and promised a “strong response.” Pakistan denies any state complicity.
“Indian Air Force violated Line of Control. Pakistan Air Force immediately scrambled. Indian aircrafts gone back,” Pakistani military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said.
He said the Indian aircraft “intruded from Muzafarabad sector,” an area in the Pakistan-administered part of Kashmir, but faced a “timely and effective response from Pakistan Air Force.”
While escaping, Ghafoor said, the Indian jets “released payload … which fell near Balakot” in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
“Indian aircrafts’ intrusion across LOC in Muzafarabad Sector within AJ&K was 3-4 miles,” he said in another tweet. “Under forced hasty withdrawal aircrafts released payload which had free fall in open area.”
Ghafoor also tweeted pictures of what he said was the payload released by the “hastily escaping Indian aircrafts.”
The strikes raised the possibility of military escalation between the nuclear-armed neighbors who have fought three wars since they gained independence from the British in 1947, two of them over the disputed Kashmir region.
Reuters reported that India’s defense ministry said it had no information about Pakistan’s claims.
But ANI, an Indian news agency, quoted Indian Air Force sources as saying at least twelve Indian jets entered Pakistan at around 3.30 a.m. on Tuesday morning and “struck a major terrorist camp … and completely destroyed it.”
“12 Mirage 2000 jets took part in the operation that dropped 1000 Kg bombs on terror camps across LOC, completely destroying it,” ANI said in one of several tweets about the alleged strikes.
Although exchanges of artillery and light weapons on the Line of Control are not uncommon, Tuesday’s statement from the Pakistan army is a rare public announcement of an attempted airstrike by arch-rival India.
In September 2016, India said it had conducted “surgical strikes” on militants in Pakistan it suspected of preparing to infiltrate into the part of Kashmir it controls. Pakistan completely rejected the claim.
The alleged strikes followed a militant attack on an army base in Uri near LOC that killed 17 soldiers.


‘Baby don’t go’: American singer Cher in Pakistan to bid farewell to Kaavan the elephant 

Updated 27 November 2020

‘Baby don’t go’: American singer Cher in Pakistan to bid farewell to Kaavan the elephant 

  • The 'world's loneliest elephant' has languished in the Islamabad zoo for 35 years and lost his partner in 2012
  • Cher and animal rights groups have campaigned for years for the elephant’s better treatment and freedom 

ISLAMABAD: American singing sensation Cher called on Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday during a visit to Pakistan to celebrate the departure of Kaavan, dubbed the “world’s loneliest elephant,” who is all set to leave an Islamabad zoo for a sanctuary in Cambodia.

Cher and other rights groups have for years lobbied for the better treatment and release of Kaavan, who has languished in the Islamabad zoo for 35 years. He was diagnosed by veterinarians as both overweight and malnourished earlier this year, and also suffers behavioral issues. He will leave for Cambodia on Sunday.

“Appreciating her efforts in retiring Kavan to an elephant sanctuary, the Prime Minister thanked Cher for her campaign and role in this regard,” a government handout said. “The Prime Minister observed that it was indeed a happy moment for all of us that after giving joy and happiness to the people of Islamabad and Pakistan for about 35 years, Kavan will now be able to retire with other elephants in a specialized sanctuary in Cambodia.”

Khan also invited the singer to contribute towards the government's initiative to expand its tourism and environmental programs, “to which she kindly agreed.”

“On this occasion, Cher applauded the Prime Minister for his government's key initiatives for ensuring a cleaner and greener Pakistan,” the statement added. “She also offered her support for furthering the green initiatives through her organization 'Free the Wild' and thanked the Prime Minister.”

Cher took up Kaavan’s cause and has been a loud voice advocating for his resettlement. Four Paws International, a Vienna-based animal welfare group, has also led the charge to save Kaavan and provided the medical treatment needed before he can travel. The battle for his relocation began in 2016.

Even after he’s in Cambodia, Kaavan will require years of physical and even psychological assistance, Four Paws' representatives have said.

Because of the abysmal living conditions blamed on systemic negligence, Pakistan’s high court in May ordered the closure of Marghazar Zoo in the capital of Islamabad, where Kaavan has lived for much of his life. A medical examination in September showed Kaavan’s nails were cracked and overgrown — the result of years of living in an improper enclosure with flooring that damaged his feet.

The elephant has also developed stereotypical behavior, shaking his head back and forth for hours, which the medical team of wildlife veterinarians and experts blamed on his utter boredom.

For the past three months, a Four Paws team including veterinarian Dr. Amil Khalil and the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board has been readying Kaavan to leave. Members of the welfare group will also accompany him to the sanctuary.