Uri attack: Jittery Pakistan shuts airspace, motorways; PAF fighter jets conduct drill
The PAF exercises come at a time when tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours are running high after the Uri terror attack.
New Delhi: Anticipating a possible Indian attack in the wake of Uri fallout, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is reportedly carrying out a massive military exercise in the country, and the shutting down of some selected airspace and motorways have fuelled rumours that it may be coming sooner than later.
Although the authorities have insisted that the activities had been planned well in advance, the closure of airspaces in the country’s northern areas on Wednesday and the PAF exercises have fuelled tensions in the country.
The military exercises come at a time when tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours are running high after the Uri terror attack.
The Inter-Services Public Relations and the PAF’s media directorate are yet to make an official statement on the exercises, the Dawn reported.
Citing a senior military official, the newspaper said that “extreme vigilance was being exercised in view of the current threats from India”.
On Wednesday, Pakistan closed down its airspaces in the northern areas and its M1 and M2 motorways. Some Pakistani media speculated that the measures were being taken in response to a potential threat of surgical strikes by India.
It is also being speculated that the motorways were shut down over fears that they might be used by India for landing of its planes.
However, a top military official has rejected these claims and said that the exercises were part of a routine training drill code-named ‘Highmark’.
Dawn quoted the official as saying that the exercise is one of the largest undertakings by the PAF and requires months of advance planning.
It further said that PIA flights from Islamabad to Gilgit and Skardu were cancelled due to the closure of airspaces.
The report said that a top PIA official told Dawn that a ‘Notice to Airmen’ (NOTAMS) was issued three days ago, “informing about the airspace closure at different times on Sept 21, 22 and 24 due to the exercise”.
The closure of M1 and M2 motorways at multiple points was attributed to “construction work”, it said.
The report said that some local media channels have broadcast reports claiming that Indian troops were moved to forward locations, raising tensions.
Tensions between India and Pakistan have escalated after 18 Indian soldiers were martyred in a terror attack in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir last Sunday.
WATCH Pak air force's High Mark exercise: