India ‘deeply regrets accidental’ firing of missile inside Pakistan
The Indian defence ministry regretted on Friday that a missile "accidentally" entered Pakistan and fell in Khanewal district's Mian Channu area on Wednesday, attributing the incident to a "technical malfunction".
"On March 9, 2022, in the course of routine maintenance, a technical malfunction led to the accidental firing of a missile," the ministry said in a statement. "It is learnt that the missile landed in an area of Pakistan."
"The government has taken serious view and ordered a high-level court of enquiry," the statement added.
The ministry said while the incident was "deeply regrettable, it is also a matter of relief that there has been no loss of life due to the accident".
The Indian defence ministry's statement comes a day after Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar briefed the media about the incident, calling for an explanation from Delhi.
"On March 9, at 6:43pm, a high-speed flying object was picked up inside the Indian territory by Air Defence Operations Centre of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF)," he told media persons in Islamabad, adding the object suddenly manoeuvred towards Pakistani territory from its initial course and violated Pakistan's air space, ultimately falling near Mian Channu at 6:50pm.
"It was a supersonic flying object, most probably a missile, but it was certainly unarmed," he said at the time.
"It is important to highlight that the flight path of this object endangered many international and domestic passenger flights — both in Indian and Pakistani air space — as well as human life and property on ground," he added.
"Whatever caused this incident to happen, it is for the Indians to explain. It, nevertheless, shows their disregard for aviation safety and reflects very poorly on their technological prowess and procedural efficiency," he further stated.
He said Pakistan "strongly protests this flagrant violation and cautions against recurrence of any such incident in the future".
Earlier today, the Foreign Office (FO) summoned the Indian envoy to register Pakistan's protest over the unprovoked violation of its airspace, saying such "irresponsible incidents" reflected the neighbouring country's "disregard for air safety and callousness towards regional peace and stability".
It also called for a thorough and transparent investigation of the incident, the results of which should be shared with Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi expressed concern over the incident, saying that the international community and aviation bodies should take notice.
He said Pakistan would decide its next step after receiving India's explanation, adding that envoys of P-5 countries (permanent members of the United Nations Security Council) would be called to the FO and briefed about the incident.
Other political leaders also condemned the incident and appreciated the PAF's prompt response.