Pakistan Occupied Kashmir’s Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan rejected India’s charge that the white civilian chopper, in which he was travelling on Sunday, violated the Line of Control (LoC) and entered Indian airspace in J-K’s Poonch district, the Dawn reported. Claiming that he was, in fact, travelling “very close” to the LoC but was within the Pakistani limits, Haider Khan said there was no need to inform the Indian authorities about the flight as it was not a military helicopter.
The Indian Army Sunday said a Pakistani chopper had violated the LoC and was fired upon by the troops using small arms. It returned undamaged after about a minute, they said. Inside the chopper were PoK Prime Minister, Tourism Minister Mushtaq Minhas, and the province’s Education Minister Ifthikar Gilani.
Talking to Dawn, Haider said, “I had gone to Forward Kahuta to condole the death of the brother of one of my ministers and meet the residents of the area adjacent to the LoC. While we were passing through Abbaspur, the Indian army suddenly opened fire at my helicopter. Luckily, we remained unhurt and the helicopter was not damaged.” “We were very close to zero line, but we were within our space. Moreover, it was a civilian helicopter, so the Indian army should not have opened fire at it,” Haider said.
Adding that he frequently travels in the area, Haider said the Indian side was not informed because it was a civilian chopper. He said he would formally take up the matter with the government of Pakistan to pursue the issue and take appropriate action.
PoK President Sardar Masood Khan also condemned the firing. Terming it an act of cowardice, the president said such acts by the Indian forces would not intimidate the Kashmiris living under the “oppressive Indian rule in their struggle for their right to self-determination.”
The Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif said the attack was a severe violation of international and bilateral laws and also against the diplomatic norms. PoK Minister Minhas also denied reports in India that the incident was a Pakistan Army “plot” to assassinate the PoK PM, citing the ATC’s failure to alert the pilot.
The Indian side, however, maintains that the chopper hovered over the Karmara area in the Sarla battalion sector nearly 8 km from Poonch town around 12.13 pm, breaking the agreement between India and Pakistan that no helicopter can come within one km of the LoC and no fixed-wing aircraft within 10 km. A purported video of the incident showed a helicopter flying against the backdrop of hills, and small arms fire could be heard in the background