Within a few hours of its forced landing, the straying Indian Army helicopter along with its crew members was released by Pakistan as a gesture of goodwill. The helicopter carried two pilots, Major R.G. Raja and Major G. Kapila, Subedar Adilesh Sharma and an engineer, Lieutenant Colonel S.P. Verma. The helicopter had taken off from Leh in Jammu and Kashmir's Ladakh region and was headed for Bhimbhat in Drass sector near Kargil to assist another helicopter that got grounded there after a technical snag. The Pakistan Army allowed the chopper to return to Kargil after refuelling the machine and providing directions to the pilots. However, Pakistans benevolent motion was spurned by the Indians, who started their usual blame game. The Hindustan Times quoted unnamed Indian government officials as saying that the incident was being probed at a high level because the GPS data of the helicopter was wiped out, along with nicknames and code signs of all the helipads in the Nemu, Leh-based 14 Corps, which is responsible for the defence of Kargil-Leh, Siachen Glacier and the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with Tibet. To start with, if the helicopter was equipped with GPS, there is no reason for its straying off course and violating the Pakistani air space; secondly, helicopter landing pads are hardly a classified data in this age of satellite imagery, since they are visibly marked in Jeppeson navigation manual and other aviation charts, and Pakistan would have no need to steal them from the Indian helicopter. It appears that Pakistans gesture has been wasted on a nation that only knows the message of belligerence. Readers may recall that on August 10, 1999, the Indian Air Force (IAF) MiG-21 fighters scrambled from the IAF Base Naliya, in Gujarat, had shot down an unarmed Pakistan Navy (PN) maritime surveillance aircraft. The French-built Breguet Atlantique of PNs 29 squadron had got airborne with 16 crew members, including five officers from the Mehran Air Base, for a routine patrol and reconnaissance training mission in the coastal region near Indias border. The Indian air defence radars that were tracking the PN aircraft, decided to take aggressive action against it although the plane was within the Pakistani boundary. Despite the fact that Atlantique is an unarmed aircraft, IAF fired an R-60 air-to-air missile and destroyed it, killing all 16 on board. But when the Indians realised that the debris was on the Pakistani side, they dispatched a helicopter to land near the crash site and drag the wreckage into their border to make a strong case against Pakistan. However, a PN helicopter escorted by the PAF fighter aircraft, which was sent to look for survivors, drove the Indians away. On September 21, 1999, Pakistan lodged a compensation claim at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in The Hague, accusing India of shooting down an unarmed aircraft. It sought $60 million in reparations from New Delhi and compensation for the victims' families. Indias Attorney General Soli Sorabjee argued that the court did not have jurisdiction, citing an exemption it filed in 1974 to exclude disputes between India and other Commonwealth States, and disputes covered by multilateral treaties. Further to rub salt in the wound, the Indians awarded the prestigious Vayusena medal to Squadron Leader P.K. Bundela, Wing Commander V.S. Sharma (the fighter controller who tracked Atlantique, guided the pilot and ordered him to attack the plane) and Squadron Leader Pankaj Vishnoi (the helicopter pilot dispatched to steal the debris of Atlantique). However, fate has its own plans for exacting revenge. Two and a half years after the incident, Squadron Leader P.K. Bundela, crashed in Rajasthan's Jodhpur district on April 4, 2002, killing seven civilians on the ground in the air accident. However, Bundelas suffering was protracted; still in his early 30s, he ejected from his MiG-21 only to land on his back. His spinal cord got crushed and he was paralysed neck down. A series of operations did not restore his mobility; he was made to suffer for another year and a half like a virtual vegetable, till death relieved him of his pain and agony. Our military and Foreign Office have surely been magnanimous in returning the violating Indian Army helicopter, only if India had been equally magnanimous in not biting the hand of friendship extended by Pakistan. The writer is a political and defence analyst. Email: sultanm.hali@gmail.com