Pakistan says it has taken note of India’s statement on the “accidental firing” of a missile into its territory, demanding a joint investigation to “accurately establish the facts surrounding the incident”.
“The grave nature of the incident raises several fundamental questions regarding security protocols and technical safeguards against accidental or unauthorised launch of missiles in a nuclearised environment,” the foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday, adding that India must provide a clearer picture of the circumstances that led to the missile’s firing.
“Why did India fail to immediately inform Pakistan about the accidental launch of the missile and waited to acknowledge till after Pakistan announced the incident and sought clarification?”
Islamabad also asked New Delhi “to explain if the missile was indeed handled by its armed forces or some rogue elements”.
Pakistani officials earlier said the missile was unarmed and had crashed near the country’s eastern city of Mian Channu, about 500km from capital Islamabad.
New Delhi acknowledged on Friday that a technical malfunction in the course of routine maintenance on March 9 had resulted in the firing of the projectile.
“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 Indian Ministry of Defence said in its statement.
The ministry said the government had “taken a serious view and ordered a high-level Court of Enquiry”.
Military experts have in the past warned of the risk of accidents or miscalculations by the nuclear-armed neighbours, which have fought three wars and engaged in numerous smaller armed clashes, usually over the disputed territory of Kashmir.
Tensions have eased in recent months, and the incident, which may have been the first of its kind, immediately raised questions about safety mechanisms.
According to the US-based Arms Control Association, the missile’s range is between 300km and 500km, making it capable of hitting Islamabad from a northern Indian launch pad.