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Saturday, 8 June, 2002, 16:19 GMT 17:19 UK
Pakistan protests over spy plane
Pakistani soldier holds up piece of spy plane wreckage
India said the incident was a "routine mission"
Pakistan has lodged a formal protest with India for deliberately violating its airspace with a spy plane, which Pakistani forces say they shot down.


The incident reflected India's disregard for international norms

Pakistani Foreign Ministry
The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said in a statement it had summoned First Secretary Vikram Misri of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad to receive the protest.

Indian officials admitted losing an unmanned plane over Pakistani airspace, a few hours after Islamabad reported it had downed the aircraft.

In spite of the spy plane incident, US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said India was considering making military and diplomatic gestures, in response to international pressure to reduce tension.

The latest incident followed another day of shelling along the international border between the two countries, along with fresh skirmishes in the disputed territory of Kashmir.

Deep concern

In Islamabad, the Foreign Ministry statement said that "deep concern and strong protest" had been conveyed to the Indian envoy.


Rising tension:

1 October 2001:
38 killed in attack on the Kashmir assembly in Srinagar
13 December 2001:
14 killed in attack on the Indian parliament building in Delhi
14 May 2002:
More than 30 killed in attack on an Indian army camp in Kashmir
21 May 2002:
Moderate Kashmiri politician Abdul Ghani Lone shot dead


According to the Pakistani military, air force jets brought down the plane near the eastern city of Lahore about 30 kilometres (20 miles) from the border with India, at 2300 local (1700 GMT) on Friday night.

"The incident reflected India's disregard for international norms," the Foreign Ministry statement said.

The Indian Defence Ministry described the flight of the spy plane as a "routine mission".

"During the present state of deployment of the armed forces, flights by UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] from either side are a routine feature," said Squadron Leader RK Dhingra, a spokesman for the Indian Air Force.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar called for restraint by the nuclear-armed rivals to prevent any escalation of tension over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

"In a situation like this, responsible states must exercise utmost care to ensure that no provocation be made that might lead to escalation," he said.

Shuttle diplomacy

The spy plane incident followed a week of intense diplomacy aimed at staving off an escalation in the conflict between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

Pakistani soldiers examine the wreckage of the Indian spy plane
Spy planes are used by both sides

Mr Armitage, who visited to both Islamabad and Delhi, said there were now positive indications of a reduction in tensions, despite the noisy rhetoric.

"When you have close to a million men glaring, shouting and occasionally shooting across a territory that's a matter of some dispute then you couldn't say the crisis is over," he said.

"But I think you can say the tensions are down measureably," he told reporters.

Speaking in Estonia, he said India was considering returning some diplomats to Islamabad and make "military gestures" to ease tensions with Pakistan in response to international appeals.

These measures might be announced before the arrival of US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in the region in the middle of next week, he suggested.

Further deaths

Despite Mr Armitage's optimistic words, Indian and Pakistani forces continued to trade heavy artillery and gunfire across the LoC.

Four members of the same family in Pakistan-administered Kashmir were killed when a shell hit their house.

Indian security officials said seven people were killed in separatist violence in Indian-administered Kashmir.

An army spokesman said three soldiers were killed in the village of Loren Mandi in the Poonch district of Jammu during a gun battle with Islamic rebels.

He said four Muslim men were also shot dead overnight in a separate incident in Thilloo village in the northern district of Udhampur. The spokesman said the four men were members of a village defence committee.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Adam Mynott
"India has downplayed the loss of the aircraft"
The BBC's Susannah Price
"The Pakistani authorities haven't announced any measures they want to take"

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08 Jun 02 | Media reports
08 Jun 02 | South Asia
05 Jun 02 | South Asia
05 Jun 02 | South Asia
01 Jun 02 | South Asia
08 Jun 02 | UK Politics
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