Friday, October 28, 2011

Unanswered Questions About The Cheetah Incident

On Sunday, an Indian army helicopter accidentally crossed the Line of Control and landed several kilometers inside Pakistani territory. Within six hours it was refueled by the Pakistanis and allowed to fly back. The super-quick resolution generated much praise. However, there are several versions of what led to this.

One, involving the US, is most troubling. According to this story, New Delhi allegedly requested Washington DC for help in retrieving the helicopter. It wasn't until an Obama administration official placed a few calls that the Pakistanis began to respond seriously.

Why is this troubling?
1. Despite a hotline between the two governments and the DGMOs, a third party had to be called in to resolve what was apparently a minor incident.
2. India's Prime Minister continues to push for dialogue with Pakistan despite very little change on the ground or in official attitudes.
3. New Delhi seems to have temporarily abandoned its stance of keeping Kashmir a strictly bilateral issue.

The incident also raises a military-related question. The landing site was reportedly seven minutes flying time inside Pakistani-controlled territory.
- How long was it before Pakistani air defences noticed the Cheetah?
- How long was it before Pakistan ordered the helicopter to land?
- What sort of air defences did Pakistan activate while attempting to force the Cheetah to land?

The answers to these questions will be fairly interesting for a certain group within the Indian military.

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