Following India's admission of "accidentally" launching a missile inside Pakistan, Islamabad questioned on Saturday why New Delhi failed to immediately share information about the incident and acknowledged the occurrence only after Pakistan announced it, seeking a clarification.
The delay from India's side was highlighted in a list of questions issued by the Foreign Office (FO) a day after Delhi expressed regret over the incident, in which a missile launched from across the border fell in the Mian Channu area of Khanewal district on March 9. The Indian defence ministry said in a statement that an inquiry had been ordered into the incident.
India's explanation on the matter came after Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar briefed the media about it, calling for clarification from Delhi on Thursday.
The FO took note of India accepting the missile accident, saying that the matter could not be addressed through the "simplistic explanation" by India.
"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 statement read.
It listed a set of questions and issues in this regard, which it said must be answered by the Indian authorities. The questions are as follows:
- Explanation of the measures and procedures in place to prevent accidental missile launches and the particular circumstances of this incident.
- Explanation of the type and specifications of the missile that fell in Pakistani territory.
- Elaboration on the flight path/trajectory of the accidentally launched missile and how it ultimately turned and entered Pakistan.
- Was the missile equipped with a self-destruct mechanism? Why did it fail to actualise?
- Were Indian missiles kept primed for launch even under routine maintenance?
- Why did India fail to immediately inform Pakistan about the accidental launch of the missile and waited to acknowledge it till after Pakistan announced the incident and sought clarification?
- Explanation if the missile was indeed handled by its armed forces or some rogue elements given the profound "level of incompetence".
The FO said the entire incident indicated many loopholes and technical lapses of a serious nature in India's 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 demands a joint probe to accurately establish the facts surrounding the incident," the FO statement read.
The FO warned that given the short distances and response times, any misinterpretation by either side could lead to self-defence countermeasures with "grave consequences".
"Pakistan, therefore, calls upon the international community to take serious notice of this incident of [a] grave nature in a nuclearised environment and play its due role in promoting strategic stability in the region," the FO said.
Indian charge d’affaires summoned
Later, the FO issued another statement, saying that the Indian charge d’affaires in Islamabad was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today in connection with the matter.
Pakistan's "serious concerns" on the press statement issued by the Indian defence ministry regarding the “accidental firing” of an Indian missile into Pakistani territory on March 9, 2022 due to a "technical malfunction" and the decision to hold an internal court of inquiry were conveyed to the charge d’affaires, the FO said.
"The Cd’A was asked to convey to the government of India that such serious matters could not be addressed with simplistic explanations as offered by the Indian authorities," the statement read.
It added that the charge d’ affaires was further told that Pakistan expected a "satisfactory response to and clarification of several fundamental questions regarding security protocols and technical safeguards against the accidental or unauthorised launch of missiles in a nuclearised environment.
"The Cd’A was informed that the Indian decision to hold an internal court of inquiry was not sufficient since the missile ended up in Pakistani territory. He was told to convey to the government of India Pakistan’s demand of a joint probe in order to accurately establish the facts surrounding the incident," the FO said.
On Friday, National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf had also questioned Delhi's ability to handle sensitive technology and urged the world to consider whether India was able to ensure the safety and security of its weapon systems.
In series a tweets, Yusuf had pointed out that it had taken Delhi more than two days to accept that "this was their missile launched ostensibly due to a technical malfunction during maintenance".
He had also called for an investigation into the "real circumstances surrounding" the March 9 incident "to ascertain if this was an inadvertent launch or something more intentional", saying that "it is hard to believe anything this Indian government says".