Amidst India and China military stand-off, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has carried out exercises at its forward airbase in Skardu near Ladakh in the occupied Gilgit-Baltistan region.
In the past, Pakistan has used the airbase to support its Army operations on the border with India. It has deployed JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft at Skardu airbase which carried out these exercises.
Pakistan’s state-owned PTV broadcaster said PAF Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan visited PAF Base, Qadri in Skardu on Saturday and witnessed various operational activities at the base, including rapid deployment of fighter aircraft and combat support elements. He was also briefed on the ongoing infrastructure development works at the airbase.
Pakistan’s media quoted Mr Khan as saying that “the aggressive military procurements by the enemy are not going unnoticed and necessary measures are in place to ensure the balance of military power in the conventional domain as well.”
His visit comes at a time when China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops remain in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with Indian soldiers along the LAC in Ladakh.
Speculations are rife in Pakistan and China that the two allies may attack from two fronts – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, respectively, and simultaneously to occupy vital parts of Indian Territory.
However, Pakistan’s state radio claimed that Khan visited PAF Base Qadri at Skardu in Gilgit-Baltistan on Saturday and not Friday. “The Air Chief witnessed various operational activities at the base including rapid deployment of fighter aircraft and combat support elements. He was also briefed about the ongoing development works at the base,” Pakistan radio said.
Talking to air force personnel, Khan said that Pakistan was watching the geostrategic developments in the region. The air chief claimed that India was making massive military procurements.
Pakistan Army has been continually violating ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu & Kashmir for the last several months.
Skardu airbase in PoK is around 100 kilometres from Leh airbase.
In the past, Pakistan has used the airbase to support its Army operations on the border with India.
JF-17 is now the backbone of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) defence as the US has stopped sale of new F16 aircraft to Pakistan. Chinese JF-17 is a single-engine fighter which can be used for ground attack and aircraft interception. However, unlike India’s top line aircraft Su-30 which can carry 8 beyond-visual-range (BVR) missiles, JF-17 can carry only four BVR missiles.
Official sources in New Delhi said that India is fully cognizant of Pakistan’s military exercises in the occupied Gilgit-Baltistan region.