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PaklovesTurkiye

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by Jahanzaib Sheikh

May 30, 2021

in Features


Pakistani security forces stand alongside the plane hijacked in May 1998 (AFP)

Four days before Pakistan became the seventh nation to conduct nuclear tests, there was a crucial development that might have changed the course of history or could have made a significant impact on the country’s sovereignty.

In the late 1990s, South Asia saw a sharp rise in “nuclear nationalism” as Pakistan and India joined a race to equip their militaries with ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

India had first tested its nuclear capability in 1974–popularly known as Operation Smiling Buddha— in Pokhran region of Rajasthan. Pakistan, on the other hand, was only ambitious to do so: the efforts were being made under the umbrella of Project-706.

When the Hindu right-wing politician of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) , Atal Bihari Vajpayee, took the premiership after 1998 Indian general elections, he envisioned to make India a full-fledged nuclear state.

After few weeks, India once again went for nuclear testing. The Pokhran-II tests were a series of five nuclear bomb explosions conducted in May 1998.

Frustrated by India’s growing aggression towards boosting its nuclear capabilities, Pakistan successfully conducted nuclear tests (Chagai-I) at Chagai District, Balochistan on May 28, 1998.


Two days later, on May 30, 1998, Pakistan conducted its second test (Chagai-II) with now total six explosion tests, one more than India, despite the immense political and diplomatic pressure.

In between the most crucial period of the Sub-continent’s history, a Pakistani flight was hijacked which had to be taken to India with a mission to stop Pakistan from conducting its nuclear tests in Balochistan.

However, the plan was failed after Pakistani pilot and security forces heroically dealt with the situation.

Hijacking of PIA plane

On May 24, 1998, Pakistan International Airline Flight PK-544 (PIA Fokker F27) was hijacked shortly after it took off from Gwadar. Around 33 passengers with five other crew members were taken hostage by three armed Baloch insurgents.

The hijackers wanted to land in New Delhi, but the pilot, Captain Uzair Khan, while making an excuse of fuel shortage, took a bold step and landed the plane in Pakistan’s Hyderabad Airport. At this stage, the pilot made the hijackers believe that they had crossed the Indian border and were currently at Bhuj Airport in the state of Gujarat for the purpose of refueling the plane .

Captain Uzair carefully did his job and acted like he was talking to Indian authorities in Bhuj Airport while he was actually in contact with the airport’s manager who also managed to understand the critical situation. Now, the Hyderabad airport staff continued to pretend that they were from Bhuj airport which assured the hijackers that the plane had been arrived in India.

It was later revealed that the pilot had made this strategy because he had heard the hijackers talking about the maps of Bhuj.

After landing in Hyderabad, the hijacker sent flight engineer Sajjad Chaudhry to inform the airport authorities (whom they assumed to be Indians) about their demands, including food, water and fuel for the plane.

Police had now decided to meet the hijackers: two police officials, Usman Anwar and Akhtar Gorchani, introduced themselves as Bhuj airport’s officials while posing as Ram (Anwar) and Manoj (Gorchani). They had carried water bottles with them.


Usman Anwar (left) and Akhtar Gorchani (Right): BBC

Later, Deputy Commissioner Hyderabad Sohail Akbar Shah (as DC Bhuj) and intelligence officer Major Amir Saleem (as electrician) joined the team. All the officials had communicated with the hijackers in Hindi and tried to befriend with the insurgents as Indians.

Usman Anwar told BBC Urdu that he had to hide his Rs500 note of Pakistani currency and change the time of his watch as he wanted to conceal his real identity.

Meanwhile, Pakistani security forces had cordoned off all the surroundings of the airport. The Special Service Group (SSG) had been put on alert to deal with any possible consequence.

All lights were switched off in order to refrain the hijackers from recognising the place–possibly by reading signboards. All the mosques had been advised to do not use loudspeakers for prayer calls (Azan).

According to Anwar, they criticised Pakistan in front of the hijackers and even cracked jokes about Pakistanis to appease them.

After gaining much of the confidence of the hijackers, the officials evacuated all the passengers from the plane and provided them food and water. They also told the hijackers that Indian media and reporters were on the way to publicise their demands, especially to Pakistan.

After talking to them, the officials confirmed that the insurgents had no bombs but only few guns which they would use to explode the plane’s engine in order to destroy it.

After realising that the operation had to be conducted before dawn, the officials took swift action and eventually succeeded in overpowering all the hijackers with the help of the SSG.

It was reported that one of the official shouted Allah-o-Akbar (God is great) which alarmed the security forces who then stormed the plane.

Shocked by the developing situation, a hijacker tried to shoot one of the security person but his own companion was injured as bullet missed the target.

All the security officials who led the operation were awarded with highest honors.


Pakistani forces arrest all the hijackers in the early hours of May 25, 1998 (Credit: BBC)

According to the reports, in less than five minutes, all the hijackers were arrested and sent to police headquarters for further investigation. Later, a Hyderabad-based Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) sentenced all the hijackers, Shahsawar, Sabir and Shabbir, to death which was implemented after 17 years on May 28, 2015.

According to the reports, Shabbir was executed in Karachi Central Jail while Sabir and Shahsawar were executed in Hyderabad Central Jail.

However, a member of the Airport Security Force was turned out to be the accomplice of the insurgents who was bribed into giving clearance to their bags in airport in Balochistan, without checking them in the pretext of smuggling. He was awarded a life sentence.


“Do not test bomb in Chagai”: A subheading in Daily Jang Urdu newspaper published on May 25, 1998, mentions the demand of Baloch hijackers (Screengrab: Dekho Suno Jano/Youtube)

During the investigation, it was disclosed that the hijackers were opposed to any nuclear test in Balochistan. The Pakistani nuclear tests were eventually conducted four days later in Chagai in reaction to India’s testing of nuclear weapons a few weeks prior to the incident.


Daily Jang Urdu newspaper, published on May 25, 1998, reports that the hijackers have confessed about their affiliation with India intelligence agency (Screengrab: Dekho Suno Jano/Youtube)

It is important to note that according to the hijackers’ confession reported by media in Pakistan, the aircraft hijacking was actually planned by Indian intelligence agency to stop Pakistan from conducting nuclear tests.

https://www.dialoguepakistan.com/hi...jWj_Tn2fZ1qC1bwyUK0bJiOvRT0F_Mu5zk0mKpl_3_aq0
 

Hakikat ve Hikmet

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As for the hijackers, after “thorough” investigation they should have been bayoneted to death! And, their heads should have been severed and sent to the RAW HQ via DHL. And, their bodies should have been burnt and ashes spread over the sewage....

Bastards.....
 

The Accountant

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by Jahanzaib Sheikh

May 30, 2021

in Features


Pakistani security forces stand alongside the plane hijacked in May 1998 (AFP)

Four days before Pakistan became the seventh nation to conduct nuclear tests, there was a crucial development that might have changed the course of history or could have made a significant impact on the country’s sovereignty.

In the late 1990s, South Asia saw a sharp rise in “nuclear nationalism” as Pakistan and India joined a race to equip their militaries with ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

India had first tested its nuclear capability in 1974–popularly known as Operation Smiling Buddha— in Pokhran region of Rajasthan. Pakistan, on the other hand, was only ambitious to do so: the efforts were being made under the umbrella of Project-706.

When the Hindu right-wing politician of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) , Atal Bihari Vajpayee, took the premiership after 1998 Indian general elections, he envisioned to make India a full-fledged nuclear state.

After few weeks, India once again went for nuclear testing. The Pokhran-II tests were a series of five nuclear bomb explosions conducted in May 1998.

Frustrated by India’s growing aggression towards boosting its nuclear capabilities, Pakistan successfully conducted nuclear tests (Chagai-I) at Chagai District, Balochistan on May 28, 1998.


Two days later, on May 30, 1998, Pakistan conducted its second test (Chagai-II) with now total six explosion tests, one more than India, despite the immense political and diplomatic pressure.

In between the most crucial period of the Sub-continent’s history, a Pakistani flight was hijacked which had to be taken to India with a mission to stop Pakistan from conducting its nuclear tests in Balochistan.

However, the plan was failed after Pakistani pilot and security forces heroically dealt with the situation.

Hijacking of PIA plane

On May 24, 1998, Pakistan International Airline Flight PK-544 (PIA Fokker F27) was hijacked shortly after it took off from Gwadar. Around 33 passengers with five other crew members were taken hostage by three armed Baloch insurgents.

The hijackers wanted to land in New Delhi, but the pilot, Captain Uzair Khan, while making an excuse of fuel shortage, took a bold step and landed the plane in Pakistan’s Hyderabad Airport. At this stage, the pilot made the hijackers believe that they had crossed the Indian border and were currently at Bhuj Airport in the state of Gujarat for the purpose of refueling the plane .

Captain Uzair carefully did his job and acted like he was talking to Indian authorities in Bhuj Airport while he was actually in contact with the airport’s manager who also managed to understand the critical situation. Now, the Hyderabad airport staff continued to pretend that they were from Bhuj airport which assured the hijackers that the plane had been arrived in India.

It was later revealed that the pilot had made this strategy because he had heard the hijackers talking about the maps of Bhuj.

After landing in Hyderabad, the hijacker sent flight engineer Sajjad Chaudhry to inform the airport authorities (whom they assumed to be Indians) about their demands, including food, water and fuel for the plane.

Police had now decided to meet the hijackers: two police officials, Usman Anwar and Akhtar Gorchani, introduced themselves as Bhuj airport’s officials while posing as Ram (Anwar) and Manoj (Gorchani). They had carried water bottles with them.


Usman Anwar (left) and Akhtar Gorchani (Right): BBC

Later, Deputy Commissioner Hyderabad Sohail Akbar Shah (as DC Bhuj) and intelligence officer Major Amir Saleem (as electrician) joined the team. All the officials had communicated with the hijackers in Hindi and tried to befriend with the insurgents as Indians.

Usman Anwar told BBC Urdu that he had to hide his Rs500 note of Pakistani currency and change the time of his watch as he wanted to conceal his real identity.

Meanwhile, Pakistani security forces had cordoned off all the surroundings of the airport. The Special Service Group (SSG) had been put on alert to deal with any possible consequence.

All lights were switched off in order to refrain the hijackers from recognising the place–possibly by reading signboards. All the mosques had been advised to do not use loudspeakers for prayer calls (Azan).

According to Anwar, they criticised Pakistan in front of the hijackers and even cracked jokes about Pakistanis to appease them.

After gaining much of the confidence of the hijackers, the officials evacuated all the passengers from the plane and provided them food and water. They also told the hijackers that Indian media and reporters were on the way to publicise their demands, especially to Pakistan.

After talking to them, the officials confirmed that the insurgents had no bombs but only few guns which they would use to explode the plane’s engine in order to destroy it.

After realising that the operation had to be conducted before dawn, the officials took swift action and eventually succeeded in overpowering all the hijackers with the help of the SSG.

It was reported that one of the official shouted Allah-o-Akbar (God is great) which alarmed the security forces who then stormed the plane.

Shocked by the developing situation, a hijacker tried to shoot one of the security person but his own companion was injured as bullet missed the target.

All the security officials who led the operation were awarded with highest honors.


Pakistani forces arrest all the hijackers in the early hours of May 25, 1998 (Credit: BBC)

According to the reports, in less than five minutes, all the hijackers were arrested and sent to police headquarters for further investigation. Later, a Hyderabad-based Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) sentenced all the hijackers, Shahsawar, Sabir and Shabbir, to death which was implemented after 17 years on May 28, 2015.

According to the reports, Shabbir was executed in Karachi Central Jail while Sabir and Shahsawar were executed in Hyderabad Central Jail.

However, a member of the Airport Security Force was turned out to be the accomplice of the insurgents who was bribed into giving clearance to their bags in airport in Balochistan, without checking them in the pretext of smuggling. He was awarded a life sentence.


“Do not test bomb in Chagai”: A subheading in Daily Jang Urdu newspaper published on May 25, 1998, mentions the demand of Baloch hijackers (Screengrab: Dekho Suno Jano/Youtube)

During the investigation, it was disclosed that the hijackers were opposed to any nuclear test in Balochistan. The Pakistani nuclear tests were eventually conducted four days later in Chagai in reaction to India’s testing of nuclear weapons a few weeks prior to the incident.


Daily Jang Urdu newspaper, published on May 25, 1998, reports that the hijackers have confessed about their affiliation with India intelligence agency (Screengrab: Dekho Suno Jano/Youtube)

It is important to note that according to the hijackers’ confession reported by media in Pakistan, the aircraft hijacking was actually planned by Indian intelligence agency to stop Pakistan from conducting nuclear tests.

https://www.dialoguepakistan.com/hi...jWj_Tn2fZ1qC1bwyUK0bJiOvRT0F_Mu5zk0mKpl_3_aq0
@Jungibaaz why we have to bring ssgc for this ? If army is all bad then what about civilian institutes ?
 

Bouncer

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As for the hijackers, after “thorough” investigation they should have been bayoneted to death!
Our judiciary is a bit slow to say the least. They managed to hang these hijackers after 17 years. SEVENTEEN YEARS. That is three years more than life imprisonment itself.

There have been some cases where terrorists caught in the act were let go due to some absurd technicality. Prosecution and judiciary need a revolution to change--and the way things are, this revolution will most likely be a violent one to be sure.

While every other department is seeing improvements in service delivery, slowly but surely, our judicial system is getting worse day by day. Even the hated police department manages to shine once or twice a month through their media campaign or actual on ground action. But the judiciary doesn't even bother with that. They are answerable to none and they keep getting worse and worse.
 

SABRE

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I was in Hyderabad back then. Since it is a relatively small city word of the operation were quick to get out. The credit for the success of the operation goes almost entirely to the local bureaucracy and police officers who masqueraded as the Indians to the "T." They were so convincing that not only the hijackers but even the passengers were sold to their theatrics. When the passengers were asked to disembark the plane they thought they were getting off in India and started chanting "Pakistan Zindabad" and refused to disembark. The so called bomb turned out to be naan bread in a plastic bag.
 
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Windjammer

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The story missed the part played by the PAF.
Apparently some F-7s pretending to be Indian MiGs intercepted the plane and escorted it into Hyderabad airport.....thus convincing hijackers further that they were in India.
 

SABRE

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The story missed the part played by the PAF.
Apparently some F-7s pretending to be Indian MiGs intercepted the plane and escorted it into Hyderabad airport.....thus convincing hijackers further that they were in India.
I have never heard of PAF's participation in the operation nor did I hear any fighter jet over the sky of Hyderabad. In those days you could usually hear combat aircraft in Hyderabad from miles away as traffic was usually very thin in the city. We used to have two or three traffic signals in the entire city, imagine that. Besides, I do not think those hijackers had any idea of what MiG-21 was. PAF could fly F-16s in front of them and they could still have been tricked into believing they were IAF jets. As I said before, the word on the operation got out very quickly. The entire operation was concocted by the local bureaucracy and the police in civilian clothing.

I could ask someone if PAF was indeed involved if I could stop being lazy.
 
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Windjammer

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I have never heard of PAF's participation in the operation nor did I hear any fighter jet over the sky of Hyderabad. In those days you could usually hear combat aircraft in Hyderabad from miles away as traffic was usually very thin in the city. We used to have two or three traffic signals in the entire city, imagine that. Besides, I do not think those hijackers had any idea of what MiG-21 was. PAF could fly F-16s in front of them and they could still have been tricked into believing they were IAF jets. As I said before, the word on the operation got out very quickly. The entire operation was concocted by the local bureaucracy and the police in civilian clothing.

I could ask someone if PAF was indeed involved if I could stop being lazy.
Whenever a high jacking takes place, the air force is instantly alerted. The story of PAF aircraft scrambling from Masroor was widely published at the time. The high jackers were told that Indian MiGs have surrounded the aircraft.
 

SABRE

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Whenever a high jacking takes place, the air force is instantly alerted. The story of PAF aircraft scrambling from Masroor was widely published at the time. The high jackers were told that Indian MiGs have surrounded the aircraft.
I am in no position to confirm or deny it. But as far as my personal experience goes, I was in the city and witnessed no air activity. As I said, "in those days you could usually hear combat aircraft in Hyderabad from miles away." Nevertheless, I'll try to ask someone in the knowhow if there indeed was PAF's involvement.
 

Windjammer

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I am in no position to confirm or deny it. But as far as my personal experience goes, I was in the city and witnessed no air activity. As I said, "in those days you could usually hear combat aircraft in Hyderabad from miles away." Nevertheless, I'll try to ask someone in the knowhow if there indeed was PAF's involvement.
I have seen upto four F-7s taking off from old Islamabad airport , once they reached a certain height they sound no more than a car unless they turn on their afterburners,
You are welcome to ask your sources, however i don't make claims without substance, here's another narrative.....


The pilot managed to set aircraft transponder to hijack code for secretly sending distress signal and alert air traffic controllers on the ground. The F27 on Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) radars appeared deviating from its flight path and heading towards Indian air space. Two PAF F-7 Skybolt supersonic fighter interceptor aircraft that were on a routine Combat Air Patrol (CAP) flight in that area began monitoring the flight of hijacked PIA F27 and escorted it. The pilot of flight PK-554 told the hijackers that the aircraft is running out of fuel and he is going to land it at Bhuj Airport in India. The shrewd pilot then landed the aircraft at Hyderabad Airport in Pakistan and told the hijackers that the aircraft has landed at Bhuj Airport in India and needs to be refueled. Because the hijackers did not understand English language so it was possible for cockpit crew and airport authorities to discuss the situation and plan their actions in English language. The authorities at Hyderabad Airport also switched off airport lights to prevent hijackers from identifying the airfield.
 

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