The March 18 press briefing from Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry contained a good summary of Islamabad’s portion concerning the March 9 launch of an Indian missile into Pakistan:
I am sure you have followed closely the grave incident of unprovoked and flagrant violation of Pakistan’s airspace by an Indian supersonic missile that fell to ground near Mian Channu causing damage to civilian property on 9 March 2022.
The flight path of the missile also endangered many international and domestic commercial flights both in Indian and Pakistani airspace as well as human life and property on ground.
You are aware of the briefing by DG ISPR and DGPR PAF of 10 March, and the summoning of the Indian Charge d’Affaires (Cd’A) on 10th March to convey our strong protest. On 11 March, Indian Press Information Bureau’s Defence Wing issued a statement admitting that a missile was ‘accidently’ launched from India due to ‘technical malfunction’ during the course of a ‘routine maintenance’. Taking note of that statement, the Ministry issued a Press Release on 12 March in which questions were raised regarding India’s security protocols and technical safeguards against accidental or unauthorized launch of missiles in a nuclearized environment. The Indian CdA was again called in that day and formally conveyed the Government of Pakistan’s serious concerns on the Indian press statement. A demarche was also handed over.
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.
Therefore such a serious matter cannot be addressed with simplistic explanations proffered by the Indian authorities.
Some of the questions that need to be answered include:
• India must explain the measures and procedures in place to prevent accidental missile launches and the particular circumstances of this incident.
• India needs to clearly explain the type and specifications of the missile that fell in Pakistani territory.
• India also needs to explain the flight path/trajectory of the accidently launched missile and how it ultimately turned and entered into Pakistan?
• Was the missile equipped with self-destruct mechanism? 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?
• Given the profound level of incompetence, India needs to explain if the missile was indeed handled by its armed forces or some rogue elements?
We believe that the whole incident indicates many loopholes and technical lapses of serious nature in Indian handling of strategic weapons. Indian decision to hold an internal court of inquiry is not sufficient since the missile ended up in Pakistani territory. Pakistan has demanded a joint probe to accurately establish the facts surrounding the incident.
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 upholding and promoting strategic stability in the region.
Let me inform that Pakistan has briefed the P-5, European and other countries on this matter. The Foreign Minister has also spoken to UN Secretary-General and also addressed a letter to the President of the UN Security Council and the Secretary-General on 14th March on this incident.
The letter also draws attention to India’s persistent aggressive and irresponsible actions, its massive arms build-up as well as its offensive military doctrines and force postures, which pose an ever-present threat to peace, security and stability in South Asia. It also calls upon the Security Council to demand from the Government of India to: (a) hold a joint investigation into the missile incident along with Pakistan to accurately establish the facts surrounding the incident; (b) desist from any further actions that would jeopardize regional peace and security; and (c) take measures to provide reassurances to Pakistan and the world community about the security and safety of India’s weapons systems and the credibility of its command and control systems.