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Miscellaneous - This Day That Age

dated December 7, 1951: Pak. halts Indian plane to Kabul

A maiden Indian commercial flight from Ahmedabad to Kabul in Afghanistan, was interrupted on the 5th, with the plane's being stopped and detained for ten hours in Karachi airport by the Pakistan government. The flight had to be given up. The Dakota aircraft, belonging to the Himalayan Aviation Company, was later released by the authorities to return to India. Among the passengers was Col. M. K. Lal, Military Attache (designate) to the Indian Embassy in Kabul. New Delhi protested strongly against the unjustified action by Pakistan.

India had been seeking permission to operate commercial flights through Pakistani airspace to reach Kabul. Pakistan refused to let Indian planes fly en route through its air space over the North-West Frontier Province. India then worked out an alternative route, with the flights starting from near Ahmedabad to go to Karachi, fly from there to Zahidan in Iran, and eventually reach Kabul via Kandahar in a roundabout manner. Pakistan had agreed to this proposal and a trial run was undertaken ten days earlier by Himalayan Aviation, before the first commercial flight was scheduled on the 5th.

This first flight carrying five passengers and four crew landed in Karachi at 5-30 a.m. whereupon the plane was detained. Released late in the afternoon after several messages from New Delhi, it returned to Jamnagar, aborting the scheduled flight to Kabul. India held that, under the International Air Services Transit Agreement, the flight to Kabul should have been allowed to proceed onwards from Karachi, a stop only for refuelling, with no passengers or freight to be unloaded or taken aboard there.

Further, the Karachi-Zahidan sector was in regular use by Iranian Airways. Official circles in New Delhi hoped that the entire episode in Karachi was a mistake which Pakistan would rectify. If Pakistan remained adamant, it was proposed to connect India with Kabul by commercial planes going directly from Jamnagar to Zahidan in Iran, and then turning back to reach Kabul via Kandahar. In the meantime, India also planned to raise the issue before the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

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