ISLAMABAD: The Fore­ign Office confirmed on Wednesday that the Pakis­tan Air Force (PAF) had downed an ‘unmarked’ Iranian drone that had intruded into its airspace.

The confirmation came days after the incident was first reported on social media, where it had been said that the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) had been shot down by a PAF jet. Social media had also carried the pictures of the fallen drone. Mainstream media picked up the story from social media on Tuesday.

“On June 19, 2017, Pakis­tan shot down an Iranian Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in Panjgur sector on the Pak-Iran border. The drone was hit by Pakistan Air Force while flying at around 3-4kms inside Pakis­tani territory,” the FO said. Iran, it said, had been intimated about the downed drone.

Says Tehran has been informed about UAV shot down on June 19

The FO said the drone was shot down for being “unmarked”. Moreover, it said there was no intimation about the flight of the UAV near the border.

It is the first time that an Iranian drone has been downed by Pakis­tan although a few incidents of Indian drones being shot down have happened in the past along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary.

Iran has an extensive drone programme. It has recently been increasing its reliance on the UAVs for surveillance along the borders.

An Iranian commander Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan had last year said that drones were being used in the border regions for making them safe. He had on that occasion said that Iranian forces used drones to identify cross-border threats.

The incident happened amidst heightened tensions between Pakistan and Iran over alleged sanctuaries on Pakistani territory. Tehran alleges that terrorists have been launching cross-border attacks in which several of its border guards have been killed. In one incident, at least 10 guards were killed last month. The drone incident is likely to further stress the relationship.

Iran, as per a source, has been dissatisfied with the Pakistani explanation on shooting down of the reconnaissance drone particularly at a time when terrorists had been exploiting inadequate security measures to execute attacks.

Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2017

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