Mon, Dec 15, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Pakistan downplays ‘incursions’ by Indian aircraft

AFP AND AP , ISLAMABAD

Pakistan downplayed alleged Indian violations of its airspace, suggesting yesterday that the breaches were “inadvertent” and “technical” in an apparent bid to avoid worsening tensions following the Mumbai attacks last month.

Pakistani officials said Indian aircraft entered 2km to 4km inside Pakistan’s section of the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir and over the eastern city of Lahore on Saturday.

Pakistani jets chased the Indian aircraft back over the border, authorities said.

Both sides are usually careful to avoid such territorial violations, and it was unclear how two separate but apparently accidental incursions could occur on the same day.

India denied its aircraft had crossed into Pakistani airspace.

“There has not been any airspace violation by the Indian air force as has been alleged,” Indian air force spokesman Mahesh Upasani said yesterday.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown yesterday pledged US$9 million to Pakistan as part of a “comprehensive anti-terror program.”

Britain and Pakistan would work together under a new agreement to “ensure everything is done to make sure terrorists are denied any safe havens in Pakistan,” Brown said after meeting Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

Brown was in Islamabad after visiting India and Afghanistan on a tour of the region to discuss security in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.

The money would be spent on programs including tackling the causes of radicalization, he said.

“Through these measures we hope to do more to break the chain of terror that links the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan to the streets of the UK and other countries around the world,” Brown said at a press conference with Zardari.

Brown said the joint program would be the largest of its kind to be undertaken by Britain and that the two countries would share information, working together to improve airport security and tackle centres of extremism.

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