India rejects Pakistan’s airspace breach charge (Second Lead - changing dateline)

December 18th, 2008 - 8:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Gordon BrownNew Delhi/Islamabad, Dec 18 (IANS) India Thursday repudiated a formal diplomatic note by Pakistan alleging air space violations by Indian fighter jets and said it will respond to the note formally soon. “It had been made clear by the government of India when we saw the reports that no violations of Pakistani air space by Indian aircraft have taken place,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said here.

“This was also conveyed to the Pakistani side when Pakistan’s Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) raised it verbally with our DGMO on the evening of Dec 16, three days after the alleged violations,” he said.

He was responding to a question on alleged violations of Pakistani air space by Indian jets which was raised in a note verbale by the Pakistani foreign office to the Indian mission in Islambad.

“The Note Verbale given by the Pakistani Foreign Office today will be examined and responded to appropriately by the Government of India,” the spokesperson said.

Pakistan has alleged that Indian jets violated its airspace on two locations - Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Lahore - last Saturday night and early Sunday.

India has repudiated these allegations firmly when they were first reported in the Pakistani and international media.

Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Additional Secretary (South Asia) in Pakistan’s foreign office, Thursday summoned the Indian deputy high commissioner Manpreet Vohra to convey concerns over the “technical and air space violations by Indian aircraft”.

Pakistan handed over a diplomatic note to the Indian envoy saying the incident was not in conformity with the 1991 bilateral agreement on Prevention of Air Space Violations, a statement from the Foreign Office said.

Indian Air Force’s spokesman Wing Commander Mahesh Upasani had denied that its combat jets had intruded into Pakistani airspace as alleged by Islamabad. Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari sought to play down the incident at a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown last Sunday by describing it as a “technical incursion”. Zardari had said such incidents occurred when fighter jets made turns while flying at heights of up to 50,000 feet close to the border.

The Pakistan Air Force spokesman, too, had described it then as a “technical incursion of a minor nature made by mistake”.

Relations between India and Pakistan have been strained following the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in which more than 170 people, including 26 foreigners, were killed. India has blamed elements in Pakistan for the carnage.

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