The Indian Defense Minister’s speech in Lok Sabha regarding the recent accidental launch of an unarmed missile into Pakistan caught the attention of many security analysts and officers alike. Even though he gave a very brief insight into the whole incident, essentially duplicating what the ministry said forty-eight hours after the incident, many seem to have picked up on one certain revealing aspect.
In his speech, the Defense Minister emphasized that though the Indian military’s Standard Operating Procedures regarding the handling of missile technology were of high caliber and reflected extreme professionalism, they would be revised if needed following the inquiry report.
Many defense and security analysts picked up on this phraseology and insisted that it indicated the government’s admission that the missile launch was, in fact, a “human error” rather than a technical one. This misadventure marked the first of its kind between two nuclear-armed states and points to the callousness and ineptitude of the Indian defense forces.
In his speech, the minister, however, did not reveal the launch site or even which security force was responsible for the inadvertent launch.
Pakistan’s NSA, Moeed Yusuf, also called for an investigation into the “real circumstances surrounding” the March 9 incident “to ascertain if this was an inadvertent launch or something more intentional” as “it is hard to believe anything this Indian government says.”
Although the Indian side has launched an inquiry into the incident, the report would not be revealed publicly due to security considerations. Islamabad has listed a series of questions regarding Indian security protocols and technical safeguards against the accidental or unauthorized launch of missiles and also called for a joint inquiry into the matter.
China, a long-time ally of Pakistan, has also urged the two countries to launch a thorough investigation into the matter. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian, in a regular press briefing, said, “We call on relevant countries to have dialogue and communication as soon as possible and launch a thorough investigation into this incident, strengthen information sharing and establish a notification mechanism in time to prevent the recurrence of such incidents and miscalculations,”
To clarify, on March 9, the PAF Air Defense Operation System detected a high-speed flying object inside the Indian territory. The object was picked up at 18:43 hours which, after remaining airborne, suddenly maneuvered from its initial course and intruded into Pakistani territory. DG ISPR revealed a statement and described it as “a supersonic flying object.”
While there was no loss of life, the object did cause damage to civilian property. Furthermore, Pakistan summoned India’s Charge d’Affaires (Cd’A) to convey Pakistan’s strong protest over the unprovoked violation of its airspace. Pakistan also warned the Indian government of the unpleasant consequences of such negligence. Soon after, India released its own statement in which the nuclear state pinned the blame on a “technical malfunction” during routine maintenance.
“On 9 March 2022, in the course of routine maintenance, a technical malfunction led to the accidental firing of a missile,” the statement said. Pakistan’s National Security Advisor (NSA), Moeed Yusuf, slammed India on Twitter and raised a series of questions regarding India’s ability to handle “sensitive technology.”
The recent incident has also raised a question regarding the technical operability of the BrahMos missile. Indian authorities were looking to export the missile technology to various countries, but this misadventure could have potentially impacted the deal. India recently signed a $375 million deal for 3 of its land batteries with the Philippines, but that could also be adversely affected. The Indian minister, however, was quick to silence the speculation and said that the missile system was “safe and secure.”