NEW DELHI, Oct 17: India on Monday conveyed its inability to Pakistan to provide its armed forces’ helicopters for relief operations in Azad Kashmir without Indian pilots. An Indian foreign ministry spokesman said Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammed Khan called his Indian counterpart Shyam Saran conveying Islamabad’s willingness to have Indian helicopters but without Indian pilots and crews.
“In his reply, Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran conveyed to his Pakistani counterpart that it would not be possible for India to provide helicopters which are in service with its armed forces without pilots and crews,” the spokesman was quoted by Press Trust of India as saying.
Pakistan says it does not want badly needed helicopters to have Indian pilots to run the relief operations in Azad Kashmir.
The Indian foreign secretary “reiterated our willingness to undertake relief work in villages close to the LoC on the other side as they are more accessible from our side,” the spokesman said. “Concerning helicopter sorties being flown by Pakistani side to points close to the LoC, Foreign Secretary conveyed that these can be undertaken but information concerning the proposed sorties should be communicated as early as possible to the DGMO on the Indian side,” the spokesman said.
In a separate briefing, the Indian spokesman said a third consignment of relief material from India left Delhi on Monday evening. The consignment includes 26 tons of blankets, 250 tents, 9.5 tons of plastic sheets, 10 tons of medicines and 100 tons of fortified biscuits. It is expected to reach Pakistan on Tuesday morning.
The first consignment of about 24 tons of relief material was sent by air on Oct 10 and the second of 68 tons was sent on Oct 14 by train.