NEW DELHI: India said on Friday it accidentally fired a missile into Pakistan because of a "technical malfunction" during routine maintenance, a British wire service reported.
"On 9 March 2022, in the course of a routine maintenance, a technical malfunction led to the accidental firing of a missile," the Indian government said in a statement.
"It is learnt that the missile landed in an area of Pakistan. While the incident is deeply regrettable, it is also a matter of relief that there has been no loss of life due to the accident."
“The Government of India has taken a serious view and ordered a high-level Court of Enquiry,” the statement added.
The development comes a day after Director-General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Babar Iftikhar revealed that an Indian projectile had entered Pakistani airspace and fell near Mian Channu in Khanewal district, causing some damage to the surrounding areas.
In response, the Foreign Office said on Friday morning Pakistan strongly condemned the unprovoked violation of its airspace by a "super-sonic flying object" of Indian origin. Briefing journalists about the incident in Rawalpindi Thursday, the DG ISPR said: "At 6:43pm [on Wednesday], a high-speed flying object was picked up inside the Indian territory by the Air Defence Operation Centre of the Pakistan Airforce."
"From its initial course, the object suddenly manoeuvred towards the Pakistani territory and violated Pakistan's airspace [before] ultimately falling near Mian Channu at 6:50pm." He said that when the projectile fell, it damaged some civilian property. "Thankfully, no loss or injury to human life was caused."
The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) continuously monitored the complete flight path of the flying object from its point of origin near Sirsa in India till its point of impact near Mian Channu, the DG ISPR said.
Maj Gen Iftikhar said the PAF initiated requisite tactical actions in accordance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and that the flight path of the object endangered many international and domestic passenger flights both in Indian and Pakistani airspace.
"It [...] shows their (India's) disregard for aviation safety and reflects very poorly on their technological prowess and procedural efficiency." Maj Gen Iftikhar said that the incident could have resulted in a major aviation disaster as well as civilian casualties on the ground.
"Pakistan strongly protests this flagrant violation and cautions against the recurrence of any such incident in the future," he asserted. He said that an inquiry into the matter has been launched and forensics are being carried out but confirmed that the supersonic flying object was "most probably a missile," but it was "certainly unarmed."
"Whatever has caused this, we will wait for an explanation from the Indian side," he reiterated, adding that the Pakistani armed forces are fully prepared to deal with all such scenarios. A Pakistan air force official said the object travelled at an altitude of 40,000 feet, at Mach 3, and flew 124 kilometres (77 miles) in Pakistani airspace before crashing.
Muhammad Anis adds: Reacting to the Indian explanation, the National Security Advisor (NSA), Dr. Moeed Yusuf, meanwhile, questioned as to how an irresponsible India whose supersonic missile was fired into a nuclear state like Pakistan, could possess nuclear capability.
The NSA pointed out that Pakistan has been drawing attention of the world community towards India's faulty defence system. "Such irresponsible action can become a threat not only to a country but for the world," he said.
He recalled that India were such an irresponsible nuclear state that incidents of theft and sale of Uranium also take place on a number of occasion and arrests were also made in that connection.
Dr. Moeed said it was height of irresponsibility that India fired supersonic missile on nuclear state and now gave explanation after lapse of two and a half days. "This is very serious incident and the world should take immediate notice of it," he added.
At the same time, the NSA also expressed doubts over India's explanation regarding accidental fire of a missile into Pakistan. He also pointed out that missile fell into Pakistan after travelling 250 kilometers on an altitude of 40,000 and some commercial flights of different airlines were also in the air near flying path of the object.
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Soon after the blast, the police reached the site and cordoned off the area.