On February 6, an earthquake struck southern and central Turkey and western Syria. Its epicenter was in the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep. The BBC reported at 13.46 IST on February 8 that the toll had crossed 9,000.

On February 7, the Indian Air Force sent an aircraft carrying search & rescue teams to Turkey.

Soon after that, several media outlets reported that Pakistan had denied airspace to India’s C-17 plane carrying relief aid. One of the first media outlets to tweet about this was the First Post.

Other media outlets to follow suit were Mirror Now, Zee News English, Asianet Suvarna News, Free Press Journal, News 18, Oneindia News, G Plus, OpIndia.com.

Multiple prominent social media accounts shared screenshot of First Post and took a dig at Pakistan.

Twitter user @MrSinha_wrote, “Hello the people of #Turkey, this is how Pakistan repaid your support!!”. His tweet was viewed over two lakh times. ‘Only Fact’ co-founder Vijay Patel tweeted on the same lines.

A verified Twitter account of a journalist named Rajgopal wrote, “Both wanted to be the leaders of the Islamic World.”

Taking a similar stance, Major Surendra Poonia (Retd) said on Facebook, “This is after Turkey supported Pakistan’s Jihad policy in Kashmir @RTErdogan, Mr President, today your so-called friend Pakistan has shown its true colours…”.

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Senior Editor at New India Pramod Kumar Singh, Times Now Navbharat Amit Sahu, and Twitter users @MeghUpdates and The Hawk Eye (later deleted it) also made this claim. The tweet by ‘Megh Updates’ gained over 8 lakh views.

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Fact Check

We noticed a tweet by India Today journalist Ankiit Koomar where he said that he did not agree to the claim that Pakistan had denied airspace to India. Sharing a clip that showed a simulation of the IAF aircraft’s flight path, he wrote that there was no indication that it had sought to use Pak airspace.

Sidhant Sibal, diplomatic & defence correspondent at WION, tweeted, “On reports of Indian C17 with relief to Turkiye not using Pakistan airspace, can point out that Indian military planes don’t use Pakistan airspace nor New Delhi seeks Islamabad’s permission to use its airspace.”

Sibal added, “Even during the evacuation of Indians from Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover in August 2021, Indian military planes flew from Kabul to Dushanbe & used Iranian airspace to come back to India.”

Alt News’ sources at Indian Air Force said on the night of February 7, “The media reports are incorrect.” They added, “The IAF aircraft to Turkey is following a standard routing for the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) missions. These missions involve overflight clearances from countries that are en route to the destination. The clearances for this HADR mission were sought for the standard routing which the IAF operators fly on a regular basis.”

An overflight clearance is an authorizations from the civil aviation authorities of a country to overfly or use that country’s airspace.

Alt News asked its source if any permission was sought from Pakistan. They said, “No permission was sought because Pakistan was not on the route. Thus, there is no question of Pakistan denying airspace to the IAF. It’s worth noting that the IAF did not use Pakistani airspace during the 2021 Afghanistan evacuations as well.”

To sum it up, several media outlets reported that Pakistan had denied airspace to India’s C-17 plane carrying relief aid. The IAF debunked this claim by stating that as per standard operating procedure, the route doesn’t entail flying over Pakistan.

Interestingly, some media outlets like News18 later updated their reports or published a new report without correcting the previous one where they had talked about Pakistan’s refusal to India.

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About the Author

🙏 Blessed to have worked as a fact-checking journalist from November 2019 to February 2023.