Pakistan rejects India’s closure of missile firing incident

The Indian Air Force on Tuesday said at the end of its inquiry that the government had sacked three officers for accidentally firing a missile into Pakistan in March.

Pakistan has rejected India’s closure of the incident of the firing of a supersonic missile into Pakistani territory on March 9, and reiterated a demand for a joint probe, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday.

The Indian Air Force on Tuesday said at the end of its inquiry that the government had sacked three officers for accidentally firing a missile into Pakistan in March.

The BrahMos missile, a nuclear-capable, land-attack cruise missile jointly developed by Russia and India – was fired on March 9, prompting Pakistan to seek answers from New Delhi on the safety mechanisms in place to prevent accidental launches.

“Pakistan categorically rejects India’s purported closure of the highly irresponsible incident and reiterates its demand for a joint probe,” a foreign office statement said.

The measures taken by India in the aftermath of the incident and the subsequent findings and punishments handed by the so-called “internal court of inquiry” are totally unsatisfactory, deficient and inadequate, it added.

“India has not only failed to respond to Pakistan’s demand for a joint inquiry but has also evaded the questions raised by Pakistan regarding the command-and-control system in place in India, the safety and security protocols and the reason for India’s delayed admission of the Missile launch,” statement went on to add.

The Indian Air Force said in a statement on Tuesday, “A Court of Inquiry, set up to establish the facts of the case, including fixing responsibility for the incident, found that deviation from the Standard Operating Procedures by three officers led to the accidental firing of the missile.”

It added the government had dismissed the three officers with immediate effect.

Safety concerns

The incident, which may have been the first of its kind, immediately raised questions about safety mechanisms in place to prevent accidental launches and raised worries as both countries possess nuclear weapons.

Pakistani officials said the missile was unarmed and had crashed near the country’s eastern city of Mian Channu, about 500km (310 miles) from the capital, Islamabad.

According to the US-based Arms Control Association, the missile’s range is between 300km (186 miles) and 500km (310 miles), making it capable of hitting Islamabad from a northern Indian launch pad.

After the incident, Pakistan’s foreign office summoned India’s charge d’affaires in Islamabad to lodge a protest against what it called an unprovoked violation of its airspace, saying the incident could have endangered passenger flights and civilian lives.

Pakistan warned India “to be mindful of the unpleasant consequences of such negligence and take effective measures to avoid the recurrence of such violations in future”.

Military experts have in the past warned of the risk of accidents or miscalculations by the neighbours, which have fought three wars and have engaged in numerous military clashes, most recently in 2019 which saw the air forces of the two engage in combat.

 

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