Pakistan and India are daggers drawn and neither nation has let up off the other. Presently the LOC in Kashmir is a live wire and frequent exchange of firing continues. Pakistan was a member of the security pacts floated by the USA to contain Russia but it used the weaponry it received to fight India. At the Karachi Airforce museum of the Pakistan air force, there is a prize exhibit displayed at the moment. This is a Folland Gnat interceptor that was captured intact by the PAF. This happened during the 1965 war. The Pak president general Mohammed S Ayub Khan decided the time was ripe for annexing the state of Kashmir and launched "operation Gibralter.

. The operation failed but at the end of the war, Pakistan had in its hands a fully airworthy Indian Interceptor. The IAF top brass was bewildered and an inquiry was ordered.

Captured Gnat

The Folland Gnat that was captured by the PAF was flown by an IAF pilot named Flight Lieutenant BS SIkand. As per the reports received from Pakistan sources, the plane piloted by Sikand was accosted by an F-104 Starfighter which was gifted to the PAF by the US. Instead of giving battle the Indian pilot Sikand chickened out and came low to escape the F-104. The pilot saw an airfield and landed there. It was aPAF airfield which was not in use and Sikand was captured and made a POW. The plane which was fully armed and airworthy was captured and later put on display in the PAF museum at Karachi as a war trophy.

The IAF air staff was aghast and Sikand was dismissed from service. But the officer had big political contacts and later his dismissal was set aside and a cover story published that Sikand had landed the plane in an " error of judgment" as he mistook the Pak airfield as an Indian airfield.Sikand was exonerated and later promoted to the rank of Air Vice Marshal but this episode which is not publicized by the IAF will remain a source of deep embarrassment.

Moment of glory

Pakistan could not wrest Kashmir and the much vaunted Patton tanks floundered in the battle against inferior India Sherman and AMX tanks at Khemkaran. The USA was aghast at the defeat and failure of the Pak army despite the modern weapons gifted to them. But Pakistan had its moment of glory when they captured Sikand and the battle ready Folland Gnat.

The 1965 war is far behind and the situation has turned turtle as now Pakistan is suspect in US eyes and is into a strategic relationship with India, while Pakistan is beset by terror attacks.