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External Affairs Ministry's press release on shooting down of a Pakistan naval aircraft

New Delhi
August 11, 1999

Group Capt. Ganesh has given you a detailed account of the facts and nature of the incident in which a Pakistani military combat aircraft had intruded deep into Indian airspace and had to be engaged. This provocative action by the Pakistani military aircraft was in the line with a pattern of such hostile surveillance activities in this sensitive area.

The Altantique aircraft had intruded 10 kms. into Indian airspace. As the Information Minister of Pakistan said this aircraft was on a surveillance mission. Surveillance activity by a military aircraft in another country's airspace is a hostile activity. It is a well-known fact that apart from its primary capability of reconnaissance and surveillance, such an aircraft is capable of carrying an array of lethal weapons and stores including air to surface missiles and bombs. It clearly falls under the definition of combat aircraft in the context of the Indo-Pakistan agreement on prevention of airspace violations signed in 1991. According to the agreement such an aircraft is not to fly within 10 kms. of each other's airspace. In a clear violation of this agreement and norms of conduct between sovereign countries.

The Pakistani military aircraft had intruded deep into Indian airspace. Every opportunity was given to the intruding aircraft to correct its course and land. It disregarded all warnings and signals to land. Thereafter, the Indian Air Force, under well-known operating procedures, was constrained to engage this aircraft and shoot it down. The responsibility for what happened and any loss of the rests squarely with Pakistan. The aircraft was engaged 10 kms. inside Indian airspace and the wreckage is located in Indian territory clearly on our side of the international border.

India has been making consistent efforts to improve relations with Pakistan so that the countries can live in amity and peace. Provocative activity of this kind is not conducive to the normalisation and improvement of all-round relations between the two countries. We urge Pakistan to desist from such activities and to adhere in letter and spirit to all bilateral agreements with India and internationally-recognised norms of conduct in respect of relations between two sovereign countries.