Military spokesman says India must explain what caused the occurrence, noting its trajectory risked active air routes and threatened civilian lives
Pakistan on Friday strongly condemned the “unprovoked” violation of its airspace by a “supersonic flying object of Indian origin,” a day after the spokesman for the armed forces stressed that Delhi must explain how the incident occurred.
An Indian projectile entered Pakistani airspace on March 9, coming to a rest near Mian Channu in Khanewal district. According to Maj. Gen. Babar Iftikhar, the director-general of the Inter-Services Public Relations, it caused some damage to the surrounding area, but fortunately no loss of life or injury was reported.
“The Government of India is cautioned to be mindful of the unpleasant consequences of such negligence and take effective measures to avoid the recurrence of such violations in future,” read a statement issued by the Foreign Office. It said that the Indian Charge d’Affaires had been summoned to the Foreign Office to convey Islamabad’s protest over the “blatant” transgression of Pakistani airspace.
“[An] Indian origin super-sonic flying object, which entered Pakistani airspace from Surathgarh, India, at 6:43 p.m. (Pakistan Standard Time) on March, 9, 2022, fell on the ground near Mian Channu, in Pakistan, at around 6:50 p.m. on the same day, causing damage to civilian property,” it said, adding that the Indian diplomat had been informed that the projectile not only damaged civilian property, but also put at risk human lives on the ground, as well as endangering several domestic and international flights operating within the Pakistani airspace.
“The Indian Charge a’Affaires was told to convey to the Government of India Pakistan’s strong condemnation of this blatant violation of Pakistani airspace in contravention of the established international norms and aviation safety protocols,” read the statement. “Such irresponsible incidents were also reflective of India’s disregard for air safety and callousness towards regional peace and stability,” it added.
It said Islamabad had called for a thorough and transparent investigation of the incident, stressing that its outcome must be shared with Pakistan.
On Thursday night, Maj. Gen. Iftikhar told a televised press conference that Pakistan strongly condemned the incident and had asked India for an explanation. “At 6:43 p.m. [on Wednesday], a high-speed flying object was picked up inside the Indian territory by the Air Defense Operation Center of the Pakistan Air Force,” he said.
“From its initial course, the object suddenly maneuvered towards the Pakistani territory and violated Pakistan’s airspace [before] ultimately falling near Mian Channu at 6:50 p.m,” he said, adding that the projectile had damaged some civilian property upon crashing.
“Thankfully, no loss or injury to human life was caused,” he said, stressing that the Pakistan Air Force had 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.
He said the PAF had initiated requisite tactical actions in accordance with standard operating procedures and noted that the flight path of the object had endangered many international and domestic passenger flights in both Indian and Pakistani airspaces, as well as human life and property on the ground.
“What caused this incident to happen is for the Indians to explain,” he said. “It, nevertheless, shows their disregard for aviation safety and reflects very poorly on their technological prowess and procedural efficiency,” he added.
He said an inquiry into the matter has been launched and forensics were being carried out, but confirmed that the supersonic flying object was “most probably a missile.” However, he stressed, it was “certainly unarmed.”
Air Vice Marshal Tariq Zia, meanwhile, told media that the projectile’s route covered two active airway routes, and several commercial airlines were in the area. “If you look at the speed and height of the projectile, it was 40,000 feet high, and the airlines were between 35,000 to 42,000 feet. This could have been very detrimental to the safety of passengers,” he said, adding that the projectile had traveled 124 kilometers inside Pakistani territory in three minutes and 44 seconds.