New Delhi/Islamabad: The “accidental firing” of a missile from the Indian side into Pakistan seems to be brewing into major issue, with Islamabad today expressing dissatisfaction over New Delhi’s explanation and demanding a joint probe into the incident.
On March 9, an Indian missile flew into Pakistan and landed in its eastern city of Mian Channu, around 125 kms from the border, but did not cause any damage.
Nearly 24 hours after the incident, Pakistani military said the “high-speed flying object”, with a speed of over 2 Mach (double the speed of sound), had originated from Sirsa in Haryana.
Yesterday, India said the “accidental firing of a missile” was a result of a “technical malfunction” during “routine maintenance”.
The Indian Defence Ministry, in a statement, said the incident was “deeply regrettable” and that a high-level Court of Inquiry had been ordered into it.
Pakistan Foreign Ministry, while expressing dissatisfaction over Indian government’s explanation, raised a number of questions and apprehensions.
“Such a serious matter cannot be addressed with the simplistic explanation proffered by the Indian authorities,” it said in a statement.
“Indian decision to hold an internal Court of Inquiry is not sufficient since the missile ended up in Pakistani territory,” it said, adding Pakistan demands a joint probe to “accurately establish the facts” surrounding the incident.
“The grave nature of the incident raises several fundamental questions regarding security protocols and technical safeguards against accidental or unauthorized launch of missiles in a nuclearized environment,” it said.
“The whole incident indicates many loopholes and technical lapses of serious nature in India’s handling of strategic weapons,” the Pakistan Foreign Ministry said.
Pakistan said India should explain the measures and procedures in place to prevent accidental missile launches and the particular circumstances of this incident.
It said India needed to clearly explain the type and specifications of the missile that fell in the Pakistani territory as well as the flight path/trajectory of the missile and how it turned and entered into Pakistan.
Posing yet another question, the Pakistan Foreign Ministry asked if the missile was equipped with self-destruct mechanism and if yes, why did it fail to actualise.
The Pakistani statement added, “Are Indian missiles kept primed for launch even under routine maintenance? Why did India fail to immediately inform Pakistan about accidental launch of the missile and waited to acknowledge till after Pakistan announced the incident and sought clarification?”
It said that “given the short distances and response times, any misinterpretation by the other side could lead to counter measures in self-defence with grave consequences.”
“Pakistan, therefore, calls upon the international community to take serious notice of this incident of grave nature in a nuclearized environment and play its due role in promoting strategic stability in the region.”
Earlier, the Pakistani military spokesperson Major Gen Babar Iftikhar had said at a press conference that the missile had no warhead.