India denies Pakistani allegation of airspace violation (Third Lead)

December 14th, 2008 - 12:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Nawaz Sharif
New Delhi/Islamabad, Dec 14 (IANS) Pakistan has claimed that Indian fighter jets violated its airspace late Saturday night, an allegation that India Sunday termed as “untrue”.Meanwhile, Geo TV reported that Pakistan has declared an emergency at its airbases at Shorkot and Sarghoda following reports that Indian jets violated Pakistan air spaces twice - in Pakistani-administered Kashmir and in Lahore.

“India violated Pakistani air space and our air force is on high alert to defend any violations,” Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was quoted by GEO television as saying.

However, in New Delhi, Indian Air Force (IAF) spokesperson Wing Commander Mahesh Upasini told IANS: “There has been no violation of Pakistani airspace by Indian fighter planes. The reports are untrue.”

Pakistan’s Information Minister Sherry Rehman said in Islamabad that Indian air force planes “inadvertently” violated its airspace Saturday.

“We have confirmed it. We contacted the Indian air force and they said the violation was inadvertent. We don’t want to escalate the situation,” Rehman maintained, while talking to media persons.

“Indian aircraft entered into Pakistan’s airspace at two different sectors and were swiftly responded by the efficient Pakistan air defence system, forcing them to return to their own territory,” said Pakistan Air Force spokesman Air Commodore Humyun Viqar in a statement.

He however said this could have been a “technical mistake”, adding the Pakistan Air Force was ready to defend its space.

Relations between Pakistan and India have been under strain in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks that killed more than 170 people late last month. India has said elements in Pakistan were behind the attacks.

Leader of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) Nawaz Sharif has strongly condemned the reported violation of Pakistan air spaces by Indian jets, and said “”the entire nation is united for the defence of the country”.

“The Indian infiltration into Pakistan’s territory will not be tolerated at any cost,” Sharif said.

Pakistan television reported that Indian jets flew over Pakistani-administered Kashmir and the eastern city of Lahore, both places where the terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is active. India blames the LeT for the Mumbai attacks.

Pakistan has arrested key leaders of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a front organisation for the LeT, and shut down its offices after the UN listed it as a terror outfit. But India has said Islamabad must do more.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence. New Delhi this week ruled out military action against its neighbour.

A report in The News daily of Pakistan said that the Pakistani army has confirmed an unusual movement of medium and heavy military artillery vehicles from the cantonment area of Lahore to north of Punjab Saturday, but the military spokesman said it was only for winter exercises.

The heavy movement of military vehicles caused a scare among the people amid the current tensions between India and Pakistan.

When contacted, Director-General Inter Services Public Relations Major-General Athar Abbas stated that the unusual military movement was due to routine winter military exercises.

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