Flight MH370 mystery: India, Pakistan, Taliban ‘know nothing’ about Malaysian airliner

Published: March 18, 2014
Email
“We have checked the radar recording for the period but found no clue about the ill-fated flight,” the Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

“We have checked the radar recording for the period but found no clue about the ill-fated flight,” the Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

PESHAWAR / NEW DELHI: 

Aviation officials in Pakistan, India and Central Asia as well as Taliban militants said they knew nothing about the whereabouts of a missing Malaysian jetliner on Monday after the search for Flight MH370 extended into their territory.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vanished on March 8 about an hour into its flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard and investigators are now increasingly convinced it was diverted thousands of miles off course.

Malaysia said it had sent diplomatic notes to all countries along an arc of northern and southern search corridors including India and Pakistan, requesting radar and satellite information as well as land, sea and air search operations.

Indian defence officials rejected the possibility of a plane flying for hours above the country undetected. “The idea that the plane flew through Indian airspace for several hours without anyone noticing is bizarre,” a defence ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“These are wild reports, without any basis,” he said, adding a pilot would have to know the precise location of all Indian radars and surveillance systems to be able to get around them.

Explaining why this was unlikely, he said surveillance was so tight on India’s border facing its arch-rival Pakistan that the air force scrambled a pair of Sukhoi fighters last month after an unidentified object showed up on the radar. It turned out to be a weather balloon drifting towards the Pakistan border.

The Indian foreign minister rejected suggestions that his country could have been the intended target of a 9/11-style attack by the missing airliner. Asked by the CNN-IBN network about suggestions that the plane was hijacked with the aim of flying it into an Indian city, Salman Khurshid replied: “I don’t think we have gone that far.”

The speculation was fuelled by former US deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott who tweeted that the “direction, fuel load & range now lead some to suspect hijackers planned a 9/11-type attack on an Indian city”.

Pakistani officials said they had detected nothing suspicious in the skies after the plane vanished. “We have checked the radar recording for the period but found no clue about the ill-fated flight,” the Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement.

Central Asian countries Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, at the northern end of the search arc, said no unidentified planes had entered their air space on March 8.

“Even if all on-board equipment is switched off, it is impossible to fly through in a silent mode,” the Kazakh Civil Aviation Committee said in a statement sent to Reuters. “There are also military bodies monitoring the country’s air space.”

As the search widened, some observers suggested the plane might have flown to mountainous areas abutting Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan where Taliban militants are holed up.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban in Afghanistan said the missing plane had nothing to do with them. “It happened outside Afghanistan and you can see that even countries with very advanced equipment and facilities cannot figure out where it went,” he said.

“So we also do not have any information as it is an external issue.”

A Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander said that his group could only dream about such an operation. “We wish we had an opportunity to hijack such a plane,” he told Reuters by telephone from North Waziristan Agency.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2014.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (15)

  • It Is (still) Economy Stupid
    Mar 18, 2014 - 3:52AM

    Pakistani officials said they had detected nothing suspicious in the skies after the plane vanished.

    They also detected nothing on May 2nd.

    Recommend

  • Major Iqbal
    Mar 18, 2014 - 4:27AM

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it landed in FATA.

    As we learned during the Bin Laden raid, Pakistan’s air defense system doesn’t always work.

    Recommend

  • unbelievable
    Mar 18, 2014 - 5:00AM

    “We wish we had an opportunity to
    hijack such a plane,”

    Tell you something about the Taliban and something about the people who consider them strategic assets.

    Recommend

  • G Indian
    Mar 18, 2014 - 9:01AM

    “We wish we had an opportunity to hijack such a plane,” says all about the mindset of TTP. It is very easy to destroy a human life, but impossible to create one. I wonder is there any point in negotiating with them? Recommend

  • Ashish
    Mar 18, 2014 - 10:38AM

    “We wish we had an opportunity to hijack such a plane,”~TTP. Lol. Sounds like an Indian parent with a wishful thinking about his kid joining IIT/IIMs in future!

    Recommend

  • Mar 18, 2014 - 10:49AM

    Today anything is possible. The Pak-Afghan border is full to the brim with conspiracies and intrigues with countries jockeying for space. But in this immensely mountainous region where in the south of Afghanistan can the plane (MH 370) get beclouded without detection from sophisticated US technology? Pray that another Bin Laden fiasco does not unravel. Anyway, let’s see which way the ball rolls. Salams

    Recommend

  • Nafees N.
    Mar 18, 2014 - 10:51AM

    The aircraft would have to fly for 3-4 hours over India before reaching Pakistan. There may be blind spots on Afghan border but India-Pakistan border has very high density of sensors on both sides of the border.

    Recommend

  • Mamoon Lodhi
    Mar 18, 2014 - 11:02AM

    What happened on May 2nd was a very well coordinated & well planned operation including stealth helicopters, spy satellites & stealth drones. Also the route & flight trajectory chosen to enter into Pakistan via Afghanistan to violate Pakistani airspace was very cleverly done to avoid any radar detection. There is no comparison between that operation & this unfortunate incident where a huge passenger jet boeing 777 went missing. Don’t always under estimate your authorities.

    Recommend

  • Muhammad Saim
    Mar 18, 2014 - 11:43AM

    Malaysians are so innocent, don’t they know we have no clue of what’s happening in in our own backyards, Liyari, Balochistan, Waziristan and else where. For over a decade we cant locate few MISSING PERSONS, how can we locate a plane that was flying thousands of miles away…

    Recommend

  • satish
    Mar 18, 2014 - 12:06PM

    @Nafees N.:

    Some in India said, in order to save cost, Radars are switched off, and Car Nicobar Radar set up never worked after Tsunami stuck in 2006.

    So no surprise, this plane had it crossed Indian Airspace would have done so with no notice of any Indian radar and happily overflown.
    our great airspace is not monitored at all, so any one can just fly here with no one noticing.

    that is a sad state of affairs here..Recommend

  • General Kumar
    Mar 18, 2014 - 2:20PM

    @Major Iqbal:
    Yes, I agree. FATA has many well-established international airports and a 777 jet can easily land at any of those airports.Recommend

  • Tani
    Mar 18, 2014 - 2:33PM

    @ satish there are lot radars not just in Andaman Islands..but in mainland india ,indo china border,south,Bay of Bengal,etc etc. you can’t miss all those radar.moreover this is a Boeing plane not an ant..if it passed over andaman Nicobar they would still have seen such a big plane on vast sky. The army in andaman Nicobar Islands has clearly clarified their radar did not show anything. So don’t worry radars are active. The plane is mostly on ocean bed in South Indian Ocean near Indonesia. the northern arc corridor makes no sense surpassing 14 country radars and nobody notice or have clue, unless the hijacked plane followed civilian plane too close behind to avoid getting noticed on air or military radar of all 14 countries.

    Recommend

  • anusha
    Mar 18, 2014 - 5:06PM

    @Ashish:
    very good joke!!!

    Recommend

  • jet-lagged
    Mar 18, 2014 - 6:50PM

    “As the search widened, some observers suggested the plane might have flown to mountainous areas abutting Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan where Taliban militants are holed up.”

    These observers aren’t very smart, are they? What next? Check your pocket because there might be a Boeing 777 in there?

    Recommend

  • Dq
    Mar 24, 2014 - 8:48AM

    Major Iqbal: Yes it did at Wana International Airport…

    Recommend

More in Pakistan