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Pakistan seeks joint probe into missile mishap

"The whole incident indicates many loopholes and technical lapses of serious nature in India's handling of strategic weapons,"

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Islamabad: Pakistan on Saturday expressed dissatisfaction over India’s explanation regarding the “accidental firing” of a missile on March 9 and demanded a joint probe, saying “such a serious matter cannot be addressed with the simplistic explanation proffered by the Indian authorities”.

Pakistan had said on Thursday that a “high-speed flying object”, originating from Sirsa in Haryana, had crashed into its eastern city of Mian Channu on March 9 without causing any damage.

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India on Friday said that a “technical malfunction” during “routine maintenance” had led to the “accidental firing of a missile” and that the incident was “deeply regrettable”.

The Indian Ministry of Defence also added that a high-level Court of Inquiry had been ordered into the incident. Pakistan Foreign Ministry on Saturday said it had taken note of the Indian Defence Ministry’s statement expressing “regret” and the decision to hold an internal Court of Inquiry.

“The grave nature of the incident raises several fundamental questions regarding security protocols and technical safeguards against accidental or unauthorized launch of missiles in a nuclearized environment,” the Pakistani Ministry said in a statement.

“The whole incident indicates many loopholes and technical lapses of serious nature in India’s handling of strategic weapons,” it added. “Such a serious matter cannot be addressed with the simplistic explanation proffered by the Indian authorities,” it said.

“(The) Indian decision to hold an internal court of inquiry is not sufficient since the missile ended up in Pakistani territory,” it said. “Pakistan demands a joint probe to accurately establish the facts surrounding the incident.”

Pakistan asked India to explain the measures and procedures in place to prevent accidental missile launches and the particular circumstances of this incident.

It said India needed to clearly explain the type and specifications of the missile that fell in Pakistani territory as well as the flight path/trajectory of the missile and how it turned and entered into Pakistan. It asked if the missile was equipped with self-destruct mechanism and, if yes, why did it fail to actualize.

“Are Indian missiles kept primed for launch even under routine maintenance? Why did India fail to immediately inform Pakistan about accidental launch of the missile and waited to acknowledge till after Pakistan announced the incident and sought clarification?” the statement added.

“Given the profound level of incompetence, India needs to explain if the missile was indeed handled by its armed forces or some rogue elements?” Pakistan warned that given the short distances and response times, any misinterpretation by the other side could lead to counter measures in self-defence with grave consequences.

“Pakistan, therefore, calls upon the international community to take serious notice of this incident of grave nature in a nuclearized environment and play its due role in promoting strategic stability in the region.” 

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