Pakistan accuses India of airspace violation; IAF downplays
Islamabad/New Delhi: Pakistan on Tuesday said it had scrambled warplanes after two Indian jets allegedly entered three nautical miles into the country`s airspace over Punjab province.
Officials said the incident occurred over Pakpattan district, 200 km from Lahore, the capital of Punjab. They alleged the jets remained in Pakistani airspace for about two minutes.
Pakistan expressed "serious concern" over the alleged violation of its airspace, saying it considered the incident a contravention of a 1991 agreement on preventing such violations.
"The Foreign Ministry has conveyed serious concern to the Indian High Commission over the airspace violation by two Indian high speed (fighter) aircraft that had intruded four kilometres into the Head Sulemanki area at 1040 hours this morning," a Foreign Office statement said.
Pakistan considers the alleged airspace violation a "contravention of the 1991 agreement between Pakistan and India on prevention of airspace violations and for permitting overflights and landings by military aircraft", it said.
While voicing its concerns to the Indian government, the Foreign Office statement called on Delhi "to respect all existing agreements and CBMs that have been reached between the two countries".
"Pakistan Air Force initiated prompt tactical actions and scrambled two fighter aircraft to challenge the intruders. Upon PAF actions, Indian aircraft exited the Pakistani airspace," a PAF spokesperson said.
In Delhi, an IAF official clarified that the fighter jets, on a routine flying training sortie, seem to have flown close to the border.
Media reports regarding "Indian fighter planes entering Pakistani territory is clarified that IAF aircraft which were on a routine flying training sortie seem to have flown close to the border and it appears to be a technical violation, the same has also been conveyed to the Pakistani authorities," IAF spokesperson Sq Ldr Priya Joshi said.
The Western Air Command is expected to order a Court of Inquiry (CoI) into the technical air space violation incident involving the two MiG 21s from the Bathinda air base, sources said.
The technical violation by the IAF pilots happened because of the delay in turning back by them during a routine training sortie, they said.
The air base falls under the Area of Responsibility (AOR) of IAF`s sword arm Western Air Command.
According to the Indo-Pak Agreement on Prevention of Airspace Violations, combat aircraft should not fly within 10-km of each other`s airspace.
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