'India to explain what happened in Mian Channu,' says DG ISPR after Indian projectile falls in Pakistan
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar on Thursday briefed the media on an Indian "high speed flying object" that fell in Mian Channu, Khanewal district on Wednesday night.
"It was a supersonic flying object, most probably a missile, but it was certainly unarmed," he said.
Earlier reports had suggested that a private aircraft had crashed in the area.
"On March 9, at 6:43pm, a high speed flying object was picked up inside the Indian territory by Air Defence Operations Centre of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF)," he began. "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 initiated requisite tactical actions," he said.
"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.
"Whatever caused this incident to happen, it is for the Indians to explain. It, nevertheless, shows their disregard for aviation safety and reflects very poorly on their technological prowess and procedural efficiency," he said, adding that this could have resulted in a major aviation disaster.
"Pakistan strongly protests this flagrant violation and cautions against recurrence of any such incident in the future," he warned.
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 kilometres inside Pakistani territory in three minutes and 44 seconds, he added.
The DG also made it clear that there was no sensitive installation in Mian Channu where the projectile fell.
In response to a question, he said "testing and trial of such weapon systems do take place". "But what this was, India has to explain."
"This incident reflects the questionable capabilities of the human resources working on these programmes in India as well as this technology."
Asked for more details about the object, he said "we are not claiming anything right now". "As a responsible nation, we will wait for India to respond. We have given details of whatever we know right now. But it is for the Indians to explain what happened in Mian Channu."
"All our forces are alert to the threat and challenges that we face."
'Army has nothing to do with politics'
During the Q&A session, the DG ISPR was also asked whether the army was standing with Prime Minister Imran Khan, in relation to the current political situation and his impending no-confidence vote.
“I had clearly stated in my last press conference that the army has nothing do with politics,” he replied. “It is this way and it will remain this way."
He also requested that there "be no unnecessary speculations about this now".