Pakistan releases Indian helicopter that crossed border

ISLAMABAD Sun Oct 23, 2011 7:38pm IST

Major-General Athar Abbas, a military spokesman, speaks to Reuters in Rawalpindi February 23, 2009. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood/Files

Major-General Athar Abbas, a military spokesman, speaks to Reuters in Rawalpindi February 23, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Faisal Mahmood/Files

Related Topics

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan released an Indian army helicopter just hours after it strayed across the tense border between the two countries on Sunday, officials said, underscoring a desire by the old rivals to avoid any crisis as they try to improve ties.

The Pakistani military had forced the Indian helicopter to land and detained four Indian army officials after it intruded into its territory in Olding sector in northern Skardu region near the border in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

But it was released after senior military officials from both sides spoke on a hotline.

"The helicopter and four officers on board returned around 5.30 p.m. (1230 GMT) after a contact between the director-general military operations of the two countries," Pakistani military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas said.

The Indian defence ministry said the helicopter had returned to Kargil in Indian-ruled Kashmir. "The issue has been resolved," the ministry spokesman, Sitanshu Kar, said.

Indian officials said the helicopter strayed into Pakistani territory because of bad weather.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir lies at the heart of tensions between the nuclear-armed South Asian rivals and has been trigger of two of the three wars between them since their independence from British rule in 1947.

The latest incident took place near Kargil in Indian Kashmir where the two nations came dangerously close to their fourth war in 1999.

However, relations between the two uneasy neighbours have improved after they resumed a peace process this year which was suspended following attacks by Pakistan-based Islamist militants on the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008, that killed 166 people.

"The swift release of the helicopter shows both countries do not want to derail the peace process. Otherwise it could have turned into a major crisis," security analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi said.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir is divided but claimed in entirety by both Pakistan and India.

(Additional reporting by Frank Jack Daniel in NEW DELHI and Ashok Pahalwan in JAMMU; Editing by Sugita Katyal)

FILED UNDER:
  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Reforms Plan

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Border Tensions

Border Tensions

India names Ajit Doval as special envoy for China border talks.  Full Article 

Easing Congestion

Easing Congestion

India targets private cash to build railways to its ports.  Full Article 

First Casualty

First Casualty

Jindal Steel shelves $10 bln project after coal setback.  Full Article 

Global Trade Dispute

Global Dispute

U.S. seeks to step up India trade talks after WTO deal.  Full Article 

Budget Airline

Budget Airline

SpiceJet says in early talks with investors for fresh capital.  Full Article 

Iran Talks

Iran Talks

Iran nuclear talks extended 7 months after failing to meet deadline.  Full Article 

Obama Aide Quits

Obama Aide Quits

Hagel resigns as U.S. defence secretary, official says.  Full Article 

Clarke In

Clarke In

Clarke in first test team, but must prove fitness.  Full Article 

Glory Days

Glory Days

Hamilton leaves the partying for later.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage