Pakistan, in no mood to sober since the day India changed the status of Jammu and Kashmir, had on 23 September deployed its F-16 fighter jets to chase an Indian SpiceJet aircraft going from New Delhi to Kabul, it has just come to light. The chase lasted about an hour in the Pakistani air space.
The incident occurred on 23 September. Two Pakistani F-16 aircraft tried to stop the SpiceJet aircraft in the air. The SpiceJet aircraft was carrying 120 passengers.
The incident came to light last month when air traffic records showed the Pakistani fighter planes flowing up to Kabul in flights lasting an hour. The commercial aircraft of India was in the air then. The pilots of the F-16 aircraft asked the SpiceJet crew to land and then furnish full flight details.
In case a reader gets the idea that the Indian plane had violated any Pakistani rule, it must be told that the SG-21 aircraft of SpiceJet was flying to Kabul with 120 passengers on a day when Pakistan had not closed its airspace for Indian aircraft as yet.
The SpiceJet pilot told his F-16 counterpart, “This is an Indian commercial aircraft SpiceJet, which is carrying passengers to Kabul.” The fighter planes were flying so close that passengers aboard the SpiceJet flight could see the F-16 aircraft and even its pilots through the windows.
A passenger aboard the SpiceJet flight told news agency ANI on the condition of anonymity that the F-16 pilots, chasing the SpiceJet pilots, asked the latter to land immediately. According to sources, every aircraft has its own code.
Sources in Pakistani Air Traffic Control (ATC) say that they had taken the unique code of the SpiceJet “SG” for a code of the Indian Army or IAF. The Pakistani ATC then gave a message that an IA code aircraft from India had been flying towards Pakistan. On getting this signal, the two F-16 aircraft immediately swung into action and started chasing the SpiceJet plane.
The Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said, after the confusion was cleared, Pakistani F-16s escorted the SpiceJet aircraft to the border of Afghanistan.
A passenger said, “When the F-16 aircraft were cruising alongside, the passengers of the Spice Jet were asked to close the window and maintain peace.” Later, after a delay of 5 h, the SpiceJet plane landed at the Kabul airport and passengers breathed a sigh of relief.