Pakistan and India nearly come to blows over wayward copter
India and Pakistan avoided a diplomatic and military crisis when Pakistan released an Indian helicopter that had accidentally strayed into Pakistan territory.
A potential military and diplomatic crisis was averted Sunday after an Indian Army helicopter that had strayed into Pakistan's airspace and was forced to land by its military was allowed to return home, according to Pakistani officials.
The Indian Cheetah helicopter had violated the airspace in the disputed Kashmir region about 1 p.m. on Sunday and was forced by air force fighters to land in the Skardu region of northern Pakistan, a military spokesman said. Four Indian Army officers - two pilots, a technician and a lieutenant colonel - were detained for several hours.
Pakistan and India are bitter rivals, both armed with nuclear weapons, who have fought three wars and share a disputed border. Each side maintains a heavy military presence along the Line of Control, which divides Kashmir.
After an investigation on Sunday, Pakistani military officials agreed with the Indian government's assertion that bad weather had caused the helicopter to fly into Pakistan's airspace.
"The airspace violation was not intentional," said a Pakistani Army official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
India has shown remarkable restraint in recent years after severe provocations from Pakistan. Several terrorist attacks, including the Mumbai massacre, have originated from Pakistan. So it's good to see Pakistan take the high road in this minor incident. It should help ease tensions that have flared recently.