Pakistan’s military said Thursday that an Indian “unarmed supersonic missile” had struck its territory, damaging civilian property but causing no casualties.
“Pakistan strongly protests this flagrant violation and cautions against recurrence of any such incident in the future,” army spokesman Major General Babar Iftikhar told reporters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
“Whatever caused this incident to happen, it is for the Indians to explain,” he demanded, saying the “provocative” Indian act took place Wednesday evening.
There was no immediate response from India.
Iftikhar said Pakistan’s air defense system picked up the surface-to-surface rocket as soon as it took off from the Indian city of Sirsa, about 104 kilometers from the border between the two countries, and “continuously monitored” its complete flight path.
“From its initial course, the object suddenly maneuvered towards Pakistani territory and violated Pakistan’s airspace, ultimately falling near Mian Channu,” he said.
The general explained that the missile was flying at an altitude of 12 kilometers and stayed in Pakistani airspace for roughly 204 seconds before ending up 124 kilometers inside Pakistan in the eastern border province of Punjab.
“And when it fell, it also damaged some civilian property. Thankfully, no loss or injury to human life was caused,” he said, noting that there were no sensitive military installations in the area of impact.
But Iftikhar said the incident could have resulted in a major aviation disaster and civilian casualties on the ground.
“It is important to highlight that the flight path of this object endangered many international and domestic passenger flights both in Indian and Pakistani airspace, as well as human life and property on the ground,” he said.
Vice Marshal Tariq Zia, a senior Pakistani air force officer, told reporters that aviation experts were still examining remnants of the high-speed rocket.
The Pakistani Foreign Ministry later summoned the Indian charge d’affaires in Islamabad to lodge a formal protest over the “unprovoked” violation of Pakistan airspace.
“Such irresponsible incidents were also reflective of India’s disregard for air safety and callousness towards regional peace and stability,” the ministry said in a statement.
It called for a thorough and transparent investigation into the incident.
Pakistan and India have fought each other in three wars since gaining independence from British rule in 1947.
The long-running territorial dispute over the divided Kashmir region remains the primary source of tension between the two nuclear-armed South Asian neighbors. Both claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety.
The two countries came close to another war in February 2019 when Pakistan’s air force shot down an Indian fighter plane and captured its pilot after a dogfight over the Pakistan-administered part of Kashmir.
The aerial combat came just hours after Indian warplanes conduced a strike in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan, against an alleged militant training camp. Islamabad rejected the charges as baseless.