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Indian Air Force jets violated Pakistani airspace: PAF

By Hari Krishnan

Islamabad/Lahore, Dec 14: A Pakistan Air Force (PAF) spokesman said on Saturday, Dec 13 that Indian Air Force (IAF) jets had violated Pakistani airspace in the Kashmir and Lahore sectors, but were turned back soon after crossing the airspace over the border separating the two countries.

In the wake of the incident, an emergency was declared at the Shorkot and Sarghoda airbases on Sunday, Dec 14. Pakistan Air Force spokesman Air Commodore Himayun Viqar said two Indian aircraft crossed into Pakistan administered Kashmir and into Lahore, but refused to reveal the exact time of the alleged intrusion.

Pakistan's Information and Broadcasting Minister Sherry Rehman, however, played down the incident, saying that the incursion was 'inadvertent'.

"We have confirmed it. We have spoken to the Indian Air Force and they have said it was inadvertent. Our air force is on alert and is ready to face any eventuality, but we do not expect this to escalate. There is no need for alarm," the Daily Times quoted Rehman, as saying.

In New Delhi, however, a Defence Ministry spokesman said he had no information on the reported incursion.

A private TV channel in Pakistan said the Indian jets were 'fully armed with weapons and ammunition' and flew up to four kilometers inside Pakistani territory. It quoted unidentified officials as saying that the violations occurred 'during the day' but did not elaborate.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani were immediately informed, the channel said.

Prime minister: Gilani said the Pakistani government was not taking the Indian violations as an attack on Pakistan because they were not deliberate. TV reports quoted him as saying it was a 'minor technical mistake' that delayed a manoeuvre in air.

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) spokesman told Aaj Kal a top-level PAF meeting followed the violations to discuss a course of action amid increasing tensions between India and Pakistan.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the Indian violation of Pakistani airspace, saying "The Pakistani nation is united against any foreign aggression."

The state-run PTV also reported an explosion was heard in the Arabian Sea, between the Badin and Jati towns, but a Pakistan Navy spokesman denied the report.


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