Military experts have often warned of the risk of accidents or miscalculations by two neighboring states: India and Pakistan—which both have atomic weapons, fought three wars and have engaged in numerous military clashes.
India said it had accidentally fired a missile into Pakistan this week because of a “technical malfunction” during routine maintenance, giving its version of events after Pakistan summoned India’s envoy to protest.
Military experts have in the past warned of the risk of accidents or miscalculations by the nuclear-armed neighbors, which have fought three wars and engaged in numerous smaller armed clashes, usually over the disputed territory of Kashmir.
Tensions have eased in recent months, and the incident, which may have been the first of its kind, immediately raised questions about safety mechanisms.
“On 9 March 2022, in the course of a routine maintenance, a technical malfunction led to the accidental firing of a missile,” said the Indian Ministry of Defense. “It is learnt that the missile landed in an area of Pakistan. While the incident is deeply regrettable, it is also a matter of relief that there has been no loss of life due to the accident.”
The ministry said the Indian government had “taken a serious view and ordered a high-level Court of Enquiry”.
Pakistan’s foreign office summoned India’s charge d’affaires in Islamabad to lodge a protest over what it called an unprovoked violation of its airspace, saying the incident could have endangered passenger flights and civilian lives.
Pakistan warned India “to be mindful of the unpleasant consequences of such negligence and take effective measures to avoid the recurrence of such violations in future”.
Ayesha Siddiqa, an expert on military affairs and South Asian matters, tweeted that “India-Pak should be talking about risk mitigation”.
“Both states have remained confident about control of nuclear weapons but what if such accidents happen again & with more serious consequences?”