India apologized on Friday for what it said was an accidental firing of a missile into Pakistan.
The Indian Defense Ministry said in a statement that "a technical malfunction" during "routine maintenance" had been the cause of the missile to fire before eventually landing in a part 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 incident," the Defense Ministry said in the statement.
The statement came hours after Islamabad's foreign ministry condemned what it called an 'unprovoked violation of its airspace by an Indian origin "super-sonic flying object"'.
The missile damaged some civilian property, said Pakistan's Inter-Services Public Relations, a wing of the Pakistan Armed Forces, but said 'it was certainly unarmed'.
When asked at the press briefing if the missile was intended to test Pakistan's air defense capability, the spokesperson said: 'I think it is too early to say anything about that.'
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar on Thursday said in a media briefing that "On March 9, at 6:43pm, a high-speed flying object was picked up inside the Indian territory by Air Defense Operations Centre of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF)".
From its initial course, the object suddenly manoeuvred towards Pakistani territory and violated Pakistan's air space, ultimately falling near Mian Channu at 6:50pm. "When it fell, it damaged civilian properties," he said, adding no loss of life was reported. "PAF continuously monitored the complete flying path of the object, from its point of origin near Sirsa in India to its point of impact, near Mian Channu.
"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."
Air Vice Marshall Tariq Zia told the media that at the time this projectile was picked up, there were two airway routes active and several commercial airlines 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."
The projectile travelled 124 KM inside Pakistani territory in three minutes and 44 seconds, he added.
India's ability to handle sensitive technology questioned
After India admitted the accidental firing of a missile inside Pakistan, National Security Adviser (NSA) Moeed Yusuf questioned on Friday Delhi's ability to handle sensitive technology, urging the world to consider whether India was able to ensure the safety and security of its weapon systems. In series a tweets, Yusuf pointed out that it had taken Delhi more than two days to accept that "this was their missile launched ostensibly due to a technical malfunction during maintenance".
"This raises serious questions about India's ability to handle such sensitive technology," he said, adding that the missile had travelled close to the path of international and domestic airlines and threatened the safety of civilians.
He also called out the Indian authorities for not informing Pakistan immediately that an "inadvertent launch of a cruise missile had taken place". "In a nuclear environment, such callousness and ineptitude raises questions about the safety and security of Indian weapon systems," he said, adding that already multiple incidents of uranium theft in India had been reported and its citizens "have even been arrested while smuggling uranium in the recent past".
this is a state apparatus being run by a fascist ideology that has already
proven its recklessness by trying to bomb Pakistan in 2019," Yusuf said,
regretting that Pakistan's repeated calls urging the world to take notice of
"India's irresponsible behavior" had been ignored. This
irresponsible behavior of Delhi continued to pose a threat to regional
stability, he said.
(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).