Pakistan warns arch-rival India over mystery flying object

ISLAMABAD, March 11 (Reuters) – Pakistan on Friday warned New Delhi of “unpleasant consequences” over what it said was an Indian-originated, but unidentified high-altitude supersonic object that crashed in Pakistani territory.

Pakistan foreign office said in a statement it summoned on Friday India’s charge d’affaires in Islamabad to lodge a protest over what it said was the unprovoked violation of its airspace. Pakistan called for an investigation of the incident, which it said could have endangered passenger flights and civilian lives.

Pakistan warned India in the statement “to be mindful of the unpleasant consequences of such negligence and take effective measures to avoid the recurrence off such violations in future.”

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The two nuclear-armed neighbors have fought three wars and have engaged in numerous military clashes, most recently in 2019 which saw the air forces of the two engage in combat.

In a hurriedly called news conference late on Thursday night, Pakistan military spokesman Major-General Babar Iftikhar said, “On 9 March a high-speed flying object was picked up inside Indian territory by air defense operations center of the Pakistan air force.”

He said the military was not sure of the nature of the object, which he said crashed near the eastern Pakistani city of Mian Channu and originated from the Indian city of Sirsa, in India’s western Haryana province.

Pakistan also called on India to share outcome of the investigation into the incident.

There was no immediate response from India’s Ministry of External Affairs to a Reuters’ query on the matter.

“The flight path of this object endangered many national and international passenger flights both in Indian and Pakistani airspace as well as human life and property of ground,” said military spokesman Iftikhar.

A Pakistan air force official at the news conference said the object was being analyzed forensically and initial studies suggested it was a surface-to-surface supersonic missile, but was unarmed.

He said he traveled at an altitude of 40,000 feet, at Mach 3, and flew 124 kilometers (77 miles) in Pakistani airspace before crashing.

Iftikhar said the military would not jump to conclusions until they got an explanation from India, but said that Pakistan strongly protested against a “flagrant violation” of its airspace.

“Whatever caused this incident to happen, it is for the Indians to explain,” Iftikhar said.

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Additional Reporting by Syed Raza Hasan and Gibran Peshimam; Editing by William Maclean and Kenneth Maxwell

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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