In a flip-flop days after President Asif Ali Zardari described alleged violations of Pakistani airspace by Indian planes as “technical incursion”, Pakistan on Thursday summoned the Indian envoy and registered a formal protest.
India’s deputy high commissioner Manpreet Vohra was handed over a note by Pakistan’s additional secretary (South Asia) Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry at the foreign office, regarding the alleged airspace violations, diplomatic sources said.
The note conveyed Pakistan’s concerns “on technical and airspace violations by Indian aircraft on December 12 and 13 in non-conformity with a bilateral agreement” and sought an explanation from India.
India rejected the Pakistani claim and said there had not been any violation of its airspace.
“Today (Thursday) morning the Pakistani foreign office handed to our mission in Islamabad a note verbale alleging airspace violations by Indian aircraft five days ago,” said Vishnu Prakash, spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs. “These same allegations were first reported in the Pakistani and international media for several days and are a part of Pakistani disinformation campaign. It had been made clear by the Government of India when we saw the reports that no violations of Pakistani airspace by Indian aircraft have taken place.”
On Sunday Zardari had sought to play down the incident by describing it as a “technical incursion”. He had said such incidents occurred when fighter jets made turns while flying at heights of up to 50,000 ft. “There are two versions about the incursions. My version is the correct version,” Zardari had told a news conference with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in Islamabad.
Pakistan Air Force (PAF) spokesman Air Commodore Humayun Viqar Zephyr too described the purported incident as a “technical incursion of a minor nature made by mistake”.
(With agency inputs from Islamabad)