Pakistan says Indian planes violated its airspace

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The Pakistani Air Force said two Indian aircraft violated Pakistan's airspace on Tuesday, and that it scrambled two fighter jets to "challenge the intruders."

The Indian Air Force said its planes appeared to have committed a "technical violation."

Pakistan and India are nuclear-armed archrivals, and such airspace intrusions have happened on occasion in the past. The two countries have fought three major wars since their partition in 1947, but have taken steps to improve relations in recent years.

The Pakistani statement said Tuesday's incident occurred around 10:40 a.m. along the eastern border with India. In their statement, the Pakistanis said that after they scrambled their jets, the Indian aircraft exited the airspace after having stayed inside it for about two minutes.

The statement from India said its aircraft were "on a routine flying training sortie" when they "seem to have flown close to the border and it appears to be a technical violation."

The Indians said they had explained the situation to Pakistani authorities.

Pakistan's foreign ministry said it had conveyed a "serious concern" to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad "over the airspace violation by two Indian high speed (fighter) aircraft."

The ministry also urged India to "respect all existing agreements" between the two countries.

Yahoo News

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Zee News: 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.

PTI

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