Pakistan marked the 17th anniversary of detonating its nuclear devices Thursday by hanging three men who hijacked a plane of Pakistani airlines in 1998 and tried to get it to Delhi to protest the possibility of nulear tests being conducted in their home province.
The men — Shabbir Rind, Shahsawar Baloch and Sabir Rind — were members of the left-wing Baloch Students’ Organisation and had hijacked the jet to highlight the protest. Officials said they demanded nuclear tests not be conducted in Balochistan. Five other convicts were also hanged on Thursday.
The three had hijacked a Pakistan International Airline (PIA) plane after it took off from Turbat, Balochistan, for Karachi.
Later in a statement, the hijackers also said that they had hijacked the PIA Fokker F27 plane to highlight the neglect their home province faced owing to years of government indifference.
After hijacking the plane, which was carrying 33 passengers and five crew members, they asked the pilot to take the flight to Delhi.
However, flight captain Uzair Khan, outsmarted them by landing the aircraft in Hyderabad, Pakistan, making them believe that it was the Bhuj airstrip in India. Negotiations, that preceded the security operation, also led the hijackers to believe they were negotiating with the Indian authorities. Soon after a military operation was launched and the hijackers were taken into custody.
Within days of the hijacking, Pakistan conducted nuclear tests at Chagai in Balochistan province.