On October 26, Avi Scharf, editor of Israeli newspaper Haaretz, said in his tweet that the alleged plane did not directly fly from the Israeli capital into Islamabad. Instead, it followed a trick flight route by landing in Amman briefly to make it look like an Amman-Islamabad flight rather than a Tel Aviv-Islamabad flight. The PTI government on Saturday rejected speculations that it was holding any secret talks with Israel and India after rumors emerged regarding landing of an ‘Israeli aircraft’ in Pakistan some days ago.
The Israeli journalist’s tweets triggered a range of rumors on social media, with PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal being one of many seeking an explanation from the government on the matter. Responding to Iqbal’s tweet, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that the government would neither hold any secret dialogue with India nor Israel.
“The truth is that Imran Khan is not Nawaz Sharif. We will not hold secret dialogues with Modi or Israel. Nobody needs to worry as Pakistan is in safe hands,” Chaudhry wrote. Not satisfied with the federal minister’s explanation, Ahsan Iqbal tweeted that the way information minister got so angry over asking for explanation shows that there is something wrong.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also dismissed reports of an Israeli aircraft landing in Pakistan as fake and baseless. Addressing a press conference, Qureshi said that something which is not even real does not warrant a response. The claim was also rejected by Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Saturday, which categorically rejected any news regarding landing of a rumoured Israeli aircraft in Pakistan.
“There is absolutely no truth to the rumours that any Israeli plane landed at any airport in Pakistan. No such plane landed at any airport in Pakistan,” the authority clarified in a notification.
Following the CAA’s notification, the Israeli journalist in a series of tweets provided details he had and did not have about the flight.
“As my previous post caused uproar in Pakistan, here are all the details I have, and have not. Please follow: Bizjet M-ULTI tracked dep TLV (23Oct, 2000 UTC) , hopped Amman, got new sqwk 0757, then over Saudi arabia, and lost track Gulf of Oman (23:00) Sqwk 0757 type: Glex XRS,” Scharf said in his tweet. “Re-appeared (24Oct, 00:40 UTC) descending into Islamabad, still sqwk 0757 and type. Desc to 20K feet, and then lost track again. After 10 hours (11:20 UTC), re-appeared heading SW from Islamabad, continued same track back to Amman, then TLV.”
He said he did not know who owned the aircraft or who flew it, however, argued that there was no reason for it to descend from 40K to 20K for continuing north to Kashmir.
“I DONT know who OWNS it (“Multibird Overseas Ltd” in isle of man), or who FLEW on it. I DONT have 100% confirm landed Islamabad, because it lost track (not enought flightradar24 receivers there). However, no reason to desc 40K to 20K if continuing north to Kashmir or China. Mountains very high there (15K+). And it has NO relation WHATSOEVER to Netanyahu flight to Oman on Oct25th,” Scharf said.
The Haaretz editor further said, “Pakistan govt issues denial. I’m sure @flightradar24 can tell what was final altitude and when landed. But I assume they won’t. Maybe it only flew overhead Pakistan to go to China… Up to you investigative minds in Pakistan.” Pakistan and Israel do not have diplomatic relations. Hence, airplanes registered in either country are not allowed to enter each other’s airspace.
The BBC, after an initial investigation into the matter, established that the aircraft was a ‘Global Express XRS’ built by Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier. It carries the serial number 9394 and was registered in the self-governing British Crown dependency Isle of Man on February 22, 2017. According to its registration details, the aircraft is owned by Multibird Overseas Ltd which is listed in British Virgin Islands. These details rule out the speculation that it was an ‘Israeli’ aircraft.