Earthquake Relief: Pakistan’s Inhuman Refusal to Allow Indian Humanitarian Aids to Rush Through its Airspace
NEW DELHI, Feb 7: Pakistan’s inimical attitude towards India remains unchanged even in distress. In a shocking development, Pakistan forced Indian planes to take detour and consume longer hours in rushing aids to earthquake-hit Turkey and Syria by refusing to allow its airspace to be used for quick disposal of relief materials.
Indian assistance was urgently needed for the two disaster-struck countries facing shortage in manpower and machinery to rescue people feared to be trapped under the debris of the buildings collapsed in the quake, but Pakistan refused to relent.
Even as the Turkish authorities highly appreciated India’s gesture in rushing humanitarian aids to the calamity-hit country, Pakistan denied its airspace to Indian Air Force aircraft travelling to Turkey early Tuesday morning. This was the second time that Pakistan has attempted to prevent India from sending humanitarian aid to nations in need of it.
Turkey and Syria were jolted by a 7.9-magnitude earthquake and subsequent five mega aftershocks in the 24 hours since Monday morning in which more than 5,000 people were killed and over tens of thousands of others injured and thousands trapped under the rubble of dilapidated buildings. It is considered to be one of most devastating earthquakes in the history of west Asia.
At the instance of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Indian National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams quickly readied itself to reach the disaster-struck in shortest possible time with rescuing survivors trapped under the debris, but had to take detour due to continued obstinacy of Pakistan which refuses its airspace for Indian planes irrespective of the ground causes. The Indian Air Force C-17 airplane consisting of emergency aid to the earthquake-hit Turkey was forced to take a detour after being denied airspace by Pakistan. Islamabad’s move to obstruct the delivery of relief materials to Turkey has drawn a lot of criticism on social media.
Indian relief planes have already landed in Adana airport with modern drilling equipment, medics and rescue dogs but they had to take a detour and take longer time than required because of Pakistan. The Indian Army is also mobilising a field hospital to provide medical aid to those affected in the region.
The last time Pakistan prevented India from using its territory was in the aftermath of the Taliban takeover of Pakistan in 2021. In December, India decided to send 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan as a part of its humanitarian assistance to the war torn nation. The consignment also contained life-saving drugs.
Islamabad proposed the goods from India to Afghanistan be transported in Pakistani trucks from the Wagah border point. But later after backlash, it allowed the trucks to pass through citing “exceptional basis for humanitarian purposes.”
Pakistan’s move will likely face criticism because the flight, which took off from Hindon air base in Uttar Pradesh, had to take a detour. As per reports from Turkey and Syria, in some of the affected regions shell shocked survivors have joined the rescue officials to help rescue other victims from the rubble.
Pakistan has denied airspace to Indian aircraft several times in recent history, following political tensions or security concerns between the two countries.
The Indian Army dispatched a field hospital to provide medical support to the earthquake-affected people of Turkey in line with the government’s decision to provide support to the country.
The Agra-based Army Field Hospital has despatched an 89-member medical team. The medical team comprises critical care specialists. The contingent includes orthopaedic surgical teams, general surgical specialist team and medical specialist teams apart from others. The teams are equipped with X-ray machines, ventilators, oxygen generation plant, cardiac monitors and associated equipment to establish a 30-bedded medical facility.
India on Monday decided to immediately despatch search and rescue teams of the National Disaster Response Force, medical teams and relief material to Turkey following Modi’s instructions to offer all possible assistance to the country. The first aircraft with the relief materials was sent on Monday night.
The Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) of Turkey is facing trouble in rescuing people stuck beneath the rubble and the White Helmets in Syria are also facing lack of manpower in cities of Azaz and Saqlin. The Indian mission to Turkey will help with rescue efforts in Turkey. The Turkish embassy in India has thanked the Indian government for the help it has provided. “First batch of earthquake relief material along with NDRF’s special search & rescue teams and trained dog squads just arrived in Turkiye. Thank you India for your support and solidarity,” the Turkish embassy said in a tweet.