Lahore-Islamabad motorway closed for ‘routine’ PAF drill amid India tension

Published: September 22, 2016
PAF spokesperson Commodore Javed Mohammad Ali says the exercise was not ordered in response to recent tensions with India and the timing was a coincidence. PHOTO: PAF

PAF spokesperson Commodore Javed Mohammad Ali says the exercise was not ordered in response to recent tensions with India and the timing was a coincidence. PHOTO: PAF

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Air Force (PAF) closed Lahore-Pakistan motorway on Thursday to let it practice landing jets on the road, in what it said was routine training not related to heightened tension with India after a deadly attack in the disputed Kashmir region.

The attack in the frontier town of Uri — the latest in a decades-long dispute over Kashmir, claimed and held in part by both India and Pakistan — has raised new fears of military conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

India has accused Pakistan of being behind Sunday’s attack on an army base that killed 18 soldiers in the Indian occupied Kashmir and said it had the right to respond. Pakistan has rejected the allegation and accused India of apportioning blame before the incident had been investigated properly.

Sabre-rattling aside, India unlikely to go for military adventure

On Thursday, traffic on the motorway between Islamabad and Lahore was diverted to an older mountain road during the two-day air force exercise, dubbed High Mark. “They landed on the road in this, yes. That is something they have been doing for years,” PAF spokesperson Commodore Javed Mohammad Ali said. The drill was needed “in case your runways get damaged or they are not available for you,” he added.

The exercise was not ordered in response to recent tensions with India and the timing was a coincidence, he said. “This exercise, High Mark, is not done overnight just like that,” he said, describing it as “a routine training matter”.

“High alert”

Another security official, however, said the military was on high alert in case India decided to retaliate for the Uri attack with cross-border military force.

So far, India’s military response to the Uri attack has been limited to skirmishes near the Line of Control (LoC) separating the countries in Kashmir. The Indian army said on Thursday it had foiled two attempts by militants to infiltrate into Indian held Kashmir on Wednesday night.

India has long accused Pakistan of playing a role in the 27-year-long insurgency against its rule in occupied Kashmir, its only Muslim-majority state. Calls for a military response have increased since the Uri attack, particularly from some politicians within Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

‘India will not attack Pakistan or AJK’

Pakistan denies sending fighters into Indian held Kashmir but voices support for separatists seeking to end Indian rule there. The countries have fought two of their three wars over the Himalayan region. India’s portion of Kashmir has been under a major security lockdown during more than two months of protests triggered by the July 8 killing by Indian security forces of Burhan Wani, a popular young commander of the Kashmiri separatist group Hizbul Mujahideen, whose leader is based in Pakistan.

In New York, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called on the UN General Assembly to investigate atrocities Pakistan alleges that Indian forces have committed in Kashmir. At least 78 civilians have been killed and thousands wounded in more than two months of clashes between protesters and Indian security forces there.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • curious2
    Sep 22, 2016 - 9:01PM

    Closing down commercial airspace and now motorways isn’t hurting India – just more evidence that Pakistan military likes to chest thump at the expense of Pakistani people. Recommend

  • Mr Obvious
    Sep 22, 2016 - 9:10PM

    That make sense to anybody? Which military practices to land on motorway? BTW you can always paint stripes on runway to emulate a motorway without having to interfere with commercial traffic. Seems like a foolish maneuver which isn’t going to impress India. Recommend

  • atif
    Sep 23, 2016 - 1:51AM

    @Mr Obvious:
    By your logic one should never use expensive plane to learn flying but rather should use a simulator. Second, there is difference between a runway and a road.Recommend

  • Dash
    Sep 23, 2016 - 2:02AM

    Our motorways are our runways! We are proud of our Army! Pakistan Zindabad.Recommend

  • Indian bherya
    Sep 23, 2016 - 3:02AM

    Why these F16 landing on Highway is PAF trying to intimade India by their pizza delivery skills or they scaring their public to increase hysteria in their capital? Recommend

  • Truth
    Sep 23, 2016 - 4:35AM

    Good Job Guys!!! YOU ROCK!!! Recommend

  • Iman
    Sep 23, 2016 - 2:19PM

    We should always keep our horses ready to counter any offense from India or any other threats to our homeland. Pakistan Armed Forces Zindabad!Recommend

  • Rashid Mehmood Tehseen
    Sep 23, 2016 - 4:13PM

    Our Army Bring the message of enemies of his death , PAF command on the sea above the sea & Under the sea Pakistan Zindabad Recommend

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