Most flights shut down as tensions rise between two countries
NEW DELHI-ISLAMABAD, Feb 27th
Pakistan military has claimed to have arrested two Indian pilots after shooting down an IAF jet this morning. In a press conference, Major General Asif Ghafoor, the head of the media wing of Pakistan’s military, said one of the pilots was hospitalized and was being treated for injuries. Ghafoor’s claim came just after India shot down a Pakistani F-16 jet that violated the Indian air space in retaliatory fire 3km within Pakistan territory in Lam valley, Nowshera sector. Earlier, Pakistan had claimed to have entered the Indian airspace and dropped bombs. Senior government officials said there were no reports of any casualty. A parachute was reportedly seen when the Pakistani jet went down but the fate of the pilot is unknown.
Amid tensions with Pakistan, India lost four air force personnel when a military chopper crashed in J&K’s Budgam. Srinagar, Jammu, and Leh airports, meanwhile, are among five airports closed for civilian air traffic shortly after the IAF jet crashed in Kashmir’s Budgam district. The move to close the five airports comes amid an escalation of tension between India and Pakistan after IAF carried out strikes on terror bases in Pakistan. Airports at Chandigarh and Amritsar were among those closed, according to airline officials.
Meanwhile, Internet services have been suspended in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), while schools and colleges have also been shut in the area. On the other hand, Congress has postponed its working committee meeting.
Flight operations temporarily suspended at Shimla, Bhuntar and Gagal airports in Himachal Pradesh. Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is set to address his country shortly.
Nine airports, including the ones in Srinagar and Jammu, were closed on Wednesday for civilian air traffic amid escalating tension with Pakistan, officials said. Airports at Srinagar, Jammu, Leh, Pathankot, Amritsar, Shimla, Kangra, Kullu Manali, Pithoragarh were among those closed, they said. The move to close the airports comes amid an escalation of tension between India and Pakistan after the IAF carried out strikes on terror bases in Pakistan. In Srinagar, an official of the Airports Authority of India told PTI, “The civilian air traffic has been suspended temporarily in view of the emergency”. While the official did not specify the nature of the emergency, it is believed the step was taken in view of an IAF jet crashing in Budgam district this morning. Officials said they received instructions from air traffic controllers that the airports have been shut for civilian flights. Some of the flights en route to Jammu, Leh, and Srinagar airports have been diverted to their origin stations, they added. Airports at Chandigarh, Pathankot, Halwara are Bathinda have been put on high alert.
International and domestic commercial flights at all major airports in Pakistan have been suspended, Dawn newspaper stated quoting its sources. In his afternoon press conference, the director general of Inter-Services Public Relations, the military’s media arm, acknowledged the closure of Pakistan’s airspace due to the prevailing security situation, they said
Escalating tensions between Indian and Pakistan have set off alarm bells ringing in both countries. With speculations of an approaching war hot on both sides, civilians have taken to social media to express their concerns and disapproval.
Sources have told News18 that about 60 flights scheduled for tomorrow have been canceled and the number is likely to go up. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka has also expressed concerned about the recent developments in India and Pakistan. “As a country that has suffered from the scourge of terrorism for nearly three decades, Sri Lanka has unequivocally condemned this terrorist attack in Pulwama and stands firmly by the fight against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” it said in a statement.
Copy Edited: Adam Rizvi