No indication India’s missile launch into Pakistan was anything other than accident: US

The United States said on Monday it had “no indication” that India’s missile launch into Pakistan last week was “anything other than an accident”.

US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price made the remarks while responding to a question about the incident, advising the journalist to reach out to the Indian Defence Ministry for a follow-up.

“We have no indication, as you also heard from our Indian partners, that this incident was anything other than an accident. We refer you, of course, to the Indian Ministry of Defence for any follow-up. They issued a statement on March 9 to explain precisely what had happened. We don’t have a comment beyond that,” Price said in a press briefing.

India had actually issued a statement on March 11, a day after Pakistan’s military highlighted the issue in a press conference and two days after the actual launch of the missile.

Referring to the arrest of seven people suspected to be part of a national gang involved in illegal uranium trade in India in June last year, the journalist then asked Price whether the US had ever raised concerns with India after the incident or talked about it in diplomatic conversations.

The US State Department spokesperson responded, “I’m not familiar with that particular incident. What I would say is that nuclear safety around the world, especially in countries — nuclear-armed countries, it is always a conversation that is ongoing.”

‘High-speed flying object’ falls in Mian Channu

Last week, Director-General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar had shared details of an Indian “high-speed flying object” that fell in Mian Channu, Khanewal district.

“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). From its initial course, the object suddenly maneuvered towards Pakistani territory and violated Pakistan’s air space, ultimately falling near Mian Channu at 6:50pm,” he disclosed.

“When it fell, it damaged civilian properties,” he said, adding no loss of life was reported.

Air Vice Marshall Tariq Zia, who addressed the press conference alongside the DG ISPR, told the media that at the time the projectile was picked up, there were two airway routes active and several commercial airlines were 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.

A day later, the Indian Defence Ministry had issued a statement, regretting that a missile “accidentally” entered Pakistan and attributed the incident to a “technical malfunction”.

“The government has taken a serious view and ordered a high-level court of enquiry,” the statement added.

India says reviewing procedures after missile accidentally fired into Pakistan

India is conducting a review of its standing operating procedures for operations, maintenance, and inspection of weapons systems after accidentally launching a missile into Pakistan last week, its defense minister said on Tuesday.

“We attach the highest priority to the safety and security of our weapon systems. If any shortcoming is found, it would be immediately rectified,” Rajnath Singh told parliament.

India accidentally released a missile, which landed in Pakistan, around 7pm last Wednesday during routine maintenance and inspection, he said.

“While this incident is regretted, we are relieved that nobody was hurt due to the accident,” Singh said.

An Indian media report said that an unarmed, practice-version of the BrahMos supersonic missile was accidentally fired into Pakistan during an inspection at a secret satellite base of the Indian Air Force.

Quoting sources in the Indian defense ministry, the report claimed that the missile followed the trajectory that it would have in case of a conflict, but “certain factors” played a role in ensuring that any pre-fed target was out of danger.

The report said that since it was “a practice missile”, it had no warheads. The report also claimed that India informed Pakistan about this “accidental firing” soon after it happened. Pakistan, however, said that India failed to immediately inform Islamabad about the accidental launch, and waited until after the Inter-Services Public Relations announced the incident and sought clarification from New Delhi.

India subsequently acknowledged the incident on Friday, chalking it up to a “technical malfunction”, and said that a “high-level court of inquiry” was ordered on the event.

The Foreign Office rejected the “simplistic explanation” offered by India and proposed a joint probe into the incident to establish the facts.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also took the issue up on Monday with his German counterpart and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf had also questioned Delhi’s ability to handle sensitive technology in the wake of the incident and urged the world to consider whether India was able to ensure the safety and security of its nuclear weapon systems.

Yusuf 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.”