New Delhi: India has asked Pakistan to investigate a 26 June incident where a drone was spotted over the residential compound of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Friday.
“A drone was spotted over the premises of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad on 26 June … We expect Pakistan to investigate the incident and prevent the recurrence of such breach of security,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a media briefing.
The matter, Bagchi added, has been taken up at the official level with the Pakistan government.
The sighting of the unmanned aerial vehicle over the Indian High Commission assumes importance because it happened a day before two drones dropped explosives on the Jammu air force station in a suspected terror attack.
Pakistan later rejected India’s statement about the drone sighting at the high commission, with the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson saying it was a “preposterous claim”.
“We have seen the Indian MEA’s statement and reports in certain sections of the Indian media alleging a drone flying over the premises of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. These preposterous claims have no basis in facts and no proof whatsoever has been shared with Pakistan to substantiate these allegations,” he said.
Since the Jammu attack, there have been multiple sightings of drones, including two over the Ratnuchak-Kaluchak military areas just a day after later (they flew away as Army troops opened fire), and a suspected Pakistani surveillance drone that ventured into Indian territory Friday (it reportedly flew back to Pakistan after BSF personnel opened fire).
The Jammu IAF station attack is being investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The drone attack on the IAF station is being seen by New Delhi, albeit not officially, as an attempt to disrupt the ceasefire agreement on the India-Pakistan border, which has been in place since February.
‘Bring 26/11, Pathankot perpetrators to justice’
Sources said the matter of the drone’s sighting over the Indian High Commission came to light earlier this week.
According to sources, India has already lodged a “strong protest” and cautioned Pakistan that such incidents can harm the ceasefire understanding between both countries.
The issue of drones was raised by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval at last month’s meeting of the NSAs of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation that was held in Tajikistan.
Army chief General M.M. Naravane has said drones pose a “new challenge” for India. “We need to shed old mindsets and make our procedures more flexible and adaptive,” he said.
Meanwhile, addressing the issue of cross-border terrorism, Bagchi reiterated India’s zero-tolerance policy.
“India has a zero-tolerance policy against terrorism. All countries must take action, end terror havens and financing. We call upon Pakistan to put an end to cross-border terrorism and bring perpetrators of Mumbai and Pathankot attacks to justice,” Bagchi said.
This report has been updated with the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affair’s statement
(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)