Pilots of Indian planes flying into Indian-held Kashmir are reportedly being forced to listen to patriotic Pakistani songs, including Dil Dil Pakistan.
Pakistani hackers are allegedly blocking the pilots’ communications with control towers and transmitting patriotic music. A report in The Times of India claims that hackers have been tapping into the frequency which is used for communication between airplane pilots and Jammu Air Traffic Control (ATC).
Dil Dil Pakistan played to Indian pilots
Once they have blocked communications, the hackers allegedly transmit patriotic Pakistani songs like Dil Dil Pakistan. The title means “heart heart Pakistan” in English. This has reportedly been going on for some time.
“We are forced to hear songs like ‘Dil dil Pakistan, jaan jaan Pakistan.’ In such a situation, we revert to the Northern Control in Udhampur. This IAF-run ATC coordinates with aircraft when they are over 10,000 feet high and on descending below that level, we switch over to the Jammu tower,” said one senior pilot.
The pilots have to call Jammu ATC to agree on an alternative frequency to communicate on. The hackers are not able to get into this frequency in time to disrupt communication.
“We use VHF, which is line of sight communication and is known as ‘if you can see us, you can talk to us.’ Due to this, hackers frequently jam our frequency with ATC and start playing their music. This is a big irritant as we are in final stage of landing,” said another pilot.
Pilots likely annoyed by Dil Dil Pakistan hackers
The incidents have reportedly inspired Jammu ATC to change frequency on a regular basis. The move is designed to reduce the impact of alleged hackers.
At a time of heightened tensions between the two nations it seems unlikely that Indian pilots would want to listen to patriotic music that praises Pakistan.The two nuclear-armed neighbors have been at loggerheads for the past few months, and the situation has recently taken a turn for the worse.
The latest round of tensions began due to anti-India street protests in the disputed Kashmir region. Protests were sparked by the killing of a popular anti-India militant leader.
For months Indian security forces have struggled to put down the protests. More than 80 people have died in violent outbursts, the vast majority of them protesters.
Tensions rising between India and Pakistan
Pakistan has criticized India’s handling of the protests and spoken out about possible human rights violations in the region. The main source of controversy is the use of pellet guns, which have left hundreds of people with serious injuries.
India says that its use of pellet guns is justified as they are a non-lethal weapon. However many people have lost their eyes and suffered serious injuries due to the use of the guns.
The story took a new twist in late September after militants attacked an Indian army base and killed 18 soldiers. India blamed Pakistan for masterminding the attack.
These accusations, made without a formal investigation, stoked anger in Pakistan. Since that date an increasingly aggressive war of words has been raging between the two nations.
War drums beating loudly
In the past the threat of nuclear war has dissuaded either side from taking military action. Both countries hold over 100 nuclear warheads each, and a nuclear conflict between the two has the potential to cause widespread destruction.
However last week India engaged in what it calls a “surgical strike” on Pakistani territory. Special forces were sent in to kill what New Delhi says were militants planning to attack Indian cities.
For its part Pakistan accuses India of engaging in cross-border shelling and small arms fire. Islamabad says that this is a common occurrence along the Line of Control (LoC). Officials report that two Pakistani soldiers were killed in last week’s firing.
The incident has caused more tension between the two nations, and the threat of military action is real. Despite worries over the economic and human impact that a conflict could have, hawkish elements are calling for war.
While the playing of Dil Dil Pakistan over Indian communications channels is unlikely to spark nuclear war, it does show the extent of bad feeling between the two nations. For the sake of those living in border areas, as well as the peace and prosperity of the region, it must be hoped that the bubbling tensions do not spill over into war.
Major regional powers such as China and Russia are taking an interest in developments, and the situation could become even more complicated if they feel compelled to get involved.