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Why Pakistani, Iranian, Turkish ATC Heaped Praises On Frankfurt-Bound Air India Flight?

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India and Pakistan have always been at each other’s throat since their independence in 1947 and have not wasted a single opportunity to take a dig at each other. However few days back India’s national carrier Air India received an unexpected praise for its relief operations – from Air Traffic Controller (ATC) of Pakistan.

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As the world tirelessly battles to contain coronavirus pandemic  that has seen air operations around the world suspended, Air India has continued to evacuate foreign nationals trapped in India ever since the lockdown began

On April 2, Air India operated two special flights – Boeing 747 and 787 from Mumbai and New Delhi for carrying out relief operations and for evacuating stranded European and Canadian citizens in its special flights to Frankfurt.

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As one of these flights entered Pakistan’s Flight Information Region, the Pakistan ATC applauded the senior captain for the humanitarian effort. As one of the flights entered Pakistani airspace, the ATC greeted the captain with traditional Islamic greeting ‘Assalaam Alaikum’, according to Asian News International (ANI).

‘Assalaam Alaikum!’ This is Karachi’s control welcoming Air India for relief flights to Frankfurt,” the senior captain quoted the Pakistan ATC as saying while speaking to ANI. “Confirm are you operating relief flights for Frankfurt,” the Pak ATC further said. “Affirm,” replied the Air India captain.

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“You are cleared direct to exit point Kebud request estimate crossing Kebud (Exit),” came the response from the Pakistan ATC. Air India captain replied, saying “Cleared direct Kebud, Thank you.”

After the necessary exchange of information, the Pakistan ATC showered praise on Air India. “We are proud of you that in a pandemic situation you are operating flights, Good Luck!” “Thank you so much,” responded the senior captain of Air India.

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“It was a very proud moment for me as well as the entire Air India crew when we heard the Pakistan ATC praising our special flight operations to Europe,” one of the senior captains of the special flights told exclusively to ANI.

Furthermore, when the Air India captain in charge of the special flights, told the Pakistan ATC that he was not getting next radar for the Iran airspace, Pakistan ATC on their own accord conveyed the Indian jet’s position to the Tehran airspace and provided details of the two AI special flights.

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Before taking off from Mumbai airport, the Mumbai ATC besides giving permission also heaped praise on the national airlines for its efforts amidst the crisis, saying “we are proud of you”. The captain in his reply also said that they were also proud of working with the ATC and all other services as a sign of mutual respect.

However, there were more surprises in the offer for the Air India flights carrying out relief operations. Iran, which was the next country in the flights’ path and known for not providing flights direct route in its airspace in fact allowed Air India a direct route of 1000 miles.

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The surprised captain told ANI that such a thing had never happened before in his entire pilot career. “First time in my entire career as a pilot, Iran gave a direct routing for about 1000 miles a privilege guess enjoyed as special flights, in all especially in the recent tense situation in the Iranian airspace,” he said.

Iran has rarely given direct access to any of airlines because it is strictly reserved for their defence purposes only. Before leaving Iran airspace, the ATC there also wished us ‘all the best’,” the AI captain told to ANI.

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After Iran, the AI special flights entered Turkish and German airspace. “All ATCs from Bombay to Frankfurt welcomed the special flights of Air India and wished us very proudly,” the Captain said.

All the aircrew members including the pilots involved in the special relief operations wore the mandatory Covid-19 coveralls for over 20 hours at a stretch (to/from and ground time at Frankfurt).

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They will now remain in self-quarantine for 14 days. Air India has signed contracts with four countries, Germany, Canada, France, and Ireland, to charter 18 flights, to help citizens of these countries stranded in India because of the lockdown, said Air India’s chairman and managing director, Rajiv Bansal.

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Galwan Valley Clash: Top Indian General Decodes Why India Lost 20 Soldiers In India-China Border Conflict

India lost 20 soldiers in the Galwan Valley Border Clash. An unconfirmed number of Chinese PLA troops also were killed. Who is to be blamed for savagery border conflict between India and China?

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India’s former military intelligence chief talking about the Galwan Valley clash said that New Delhi should review the role of its intelligence agencies and improve their shortcomings when the India-China border crisis ends.

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General (retd) Amarjit Bedi told BBC in an interview that Indian soldier who fought the Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley should have received prior intelligence (about the impending attacks).

He said – Indian soldiers should have got the news about the movement of Chinese PLA troops beforehand. I think after this crisis is over, there should be a comprehensive inquiry on the matter.

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It is also vital to improve the intelligence gathering in future. This investigation should not only be within the army but also within other agencies including the intelligence agencies. We did such an investigation even after the Kargil war for which a special task force was created. 

General Bedi believes that the aggressive approach by China and the manner in which Indian soldiers were killed in the violent conflict in Galwan Valley, shows that Beijing has worked on all these things in a planned manner.

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I think China was working on it for a long time. It is quite possible that they would have started all these preparations from March-April.

After the attack in Galwan Valley, the Indian Foreign Ministry itself described the attack as ‘planned’ and ‘pre-planned’. So why the Indian intelligence agencies do not have the capability to alert the army about ‘planned’ and ‘pre-planned’ attacks, questions the BBC.

General Bedi said — I cannot say that this is a failure of our intelligence agencies. We were also ready but we thought that China would act according to the provisions of the bilateral treaty which was clearly not done.

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On prior information on Chinese activities, General Bedi also said — We knew about all kinds of activities happening inside China, such as infrastructure build-up, military exercises or some other activities. By March, we knew about the war-drills by the Chinese PLA troops and we had communicated the information to senior authorities.

The retired general also adds – China has unquestionably increased its resources and capabilities. Over time, China has considerably increased its military capability. China has three to four times more satellites than India. So it is clear that their capabilities are ahead of India at the moment but then India is not far behind.

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The General also says that our geospatial capabilities have significantly increased in the last eight-nine years, however, we have not reached the level where we want to. We need advanced satellites that can relay ground information in every season, despite the weather the conditions.

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South Asia

CPEC Project A ‘Trillion-Dollar Blunder’, Pakistan Calls It ‘Outstanding Initiative’

The debt outcome of the CPEC project is about $80 billion, 90% of which will be paid for by Pakistan in the form of the national debt. Islamabad knows that it will not be able to pay China back and will eventually lose the sovereignty of its own land.

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Pakistan PM Imran Khan pledged that his government would complete the CPEC project (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) at any cost and pass its benefits to the country despite media reports calling it a Trillion-Dollar Blunder.

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“The corridor is a manifestation of Pakistan-China friendship and the government will complete it at any cost and bring its fruit to every Pakistani,” Khan said.

Terming the CPEC project as an outstanding initiative for the country’s socio-economic development, Khan said the enormous China-Pakistan project joint would assure a bright future for the country.

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The China Pakistan Economic Corridor, according to some experts, could become a “trillion-dollar blunder.”  The CPEC, a collection of infrastructure projects that are currently under construction throughout Pakistan, which were originally valued at $46 billion is now estimated to be $87 billion and only a quarter of which have been completed, according to The Jerusalem Post.

JPost says that CPEC was planned to rapidly upgrade Pakistani infrastructure and stimulate its economy by the construction of modern transportation networks, energy projects and special economic zones (SEZs).

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However, in recent years the CPEC has proved to be based on a bogus assumption that a nation needs these massive economic projects to be flourishing. It is now self-evident that no one is willing to pay for these projects in the end, as they will never make any profit from it.

The debt outcome of the CPEC project is about $80 billion, 90% of which will be paid for by Pakistan in the form of the national debt. Islamabad knows that it will not be able to pay China back and will eventually lose the sovereignty of its own land says JPost.

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The CPEC project has been facing a lot of scrutinies like economics, trade asymmetries, opposition from Baloch rebels, concerns of citizens near Gwadar Port and the resistance of locals whom this rollout may directly impact. A verdict was even passed against the CPEC by the Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in which the projects are to be built.

Last month, Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US had written an article in ‘The Diplomat’ stating that Pakistan’s desire to maintain strategic relations with China has resulted in the construction of $62 billion worth of CPEC, which includes a set of infrastructure projects, being mired in insufficient transparency.

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“China’s consistent strategic support, including help with Pakistan’s nuclear program, is often held out by Pakistan’s military establishment favourably in contrast with the more conditional Pakistani alliance with the United States. But it seems now that China is not in Pakistan to help its people but rather as a predatory economic actor”, he said.

Meanwhile, a new concern has now started to worry China. According to international law, China will not be able to develop anything in Pakistan-administered Kashmir as it is technically a part of India despite being administer by Pakistan. Even the accepts that this is Indian land, as per its 1948 resolution on Kashmir, writes the report.

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On the other hand, Aksai Chin, a region that India claims is also an obstruction. China is expected to face obstacles in the region which probably explains the recent India-China border clash in Galwan Valley. During the recent border face-off, India had clearly stated that it will not accept any infiltration into its territory and has the capability to deal with infiltrators.

Hence, as the experts say, the CPEC will soon be known as the “trillion-dollar blunder” as here China sets the price, Pakistan gets the bill and ends up with substandard infrastructure it cannot service.

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China, Pakistan Top Ministers Hold ‘Crucial Discussions’ Amid Flaring India-China Tensions

Indian Army Chief, General M.M. Naravane recently admitted that there is a threat of possible collusion between China and Pakistan against India which could lead to a two-front war.

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China and Pakistan are considered ‘all-weather friends’ and both these nuclear-armed nations are the biggest neighbours of arch-foe – India. At a time of heightened tensions, are China and Pakistan working closely to check-mate India?

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Recently, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a tele-conversation with his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and discussed a wide range of matters including the regional tensions with India, the Kashmir issue, Afghanistan, CPEC and COVID-19, China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Wang said China and Pakistan should collaborate to tackle hurdles and defend common interests and regional peace and stability. Along with other 52 nations, Pakistan backed China’s national security law for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region at the 44th Session of the United Nations Human Rights, and China profoundly values that. Such action shows international society’s support for international justice and international norms, Wang added.

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Wang called for the two nations must fasten projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and increase collaboration in health and medical care, training the workforce, poverty alleviation and agriculture to help with the economic recovery in Pakistan.

As for the terrorist attack in Karachi, Wang said China resolutely supports Pakistan to tackle terrorism and hopes that Islamabad will provide more protection for Chinese organisations and nationals working in the country.

Qureshi echoed Wang over the dynamics of international concerns, saying that Pakistan is ready to strengthen coordination and cooperation with China to maintain regional stability. Qureshi also highlighted the significance of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Qureshi also said Hong Kong (affair) is China’s internal affairs, and Pakistan firmly opposes any foreign interference in China’s domestic issues, and Pakistan stands firmly with China on issues concerning China’s core interests.

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Earlier, as ET reported, while India and China are engaged in an intense border standoff, Indian media quoting their sources claim that Pakistan has started moving its soldiers along the Gilgit-Baltistan area to open another possible front against India.

IndiaToday, quoting its sources writes – Pakistan has moved almost 20,000 additional troops in the northern Ladakh region to match Chinese deployments.

The report further says that Pakistan is looking at an opportunity to open a two-front attack on India. It also claims that Pakistan’s ISI and Army has started deploying battle-hardened terrorists and even planning BAT operations against Indian Army soldiers.

The report also claims that Islamabad could also be organising an “internal sabotage” with the nearly 100 Pakistani-backed militants inside Jammu and Kashmir. It also indicated that Pakistan could incite attacks against Indian army personnel deployed in J&K.

Indian Army Chief, General M.M. Naravane recently admitted that there is a threat of possible collusion between China and Pakistan against India which could lead to a two-front war.

Pakistan Army dismissed Indian media reports that it had deployed additional forces in Pakistan-administered Kashmir amid India’s standoff with China or permitted Beijing to use a key airbase in the region.

The official Twitter handle of the Inter-services Public Relations wing tweeted, “News circulating in Indian electronic and social media claiming additional deployment of Pakistan Army troops along #LOC in GB and alleged use of Skardu Airbase by #China is false, irresponsible and far from truth.” The ISPR Twitter handle added, “No such movement or induction of additional forces has taken place. We also vehemently deny presence of Chinese troops in Pakistan.”

There were reports that Pakistan had permitted the Chinese Air Force to deploy fighter aircraft to its bases at Skardu and Gilgit. Both bases would help Chinese fighter jets reach Ladakh faster in the event of war than is possible from the PLAAF’s existing airbases in Tibet.

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