Inadequate Accountability

India has released its Court of Inquiry (CoI) report in the BrahMos missile misfiring case, and as predicted, it is replete with errors and omissions. The Indian Col’s conclusion that the deviation from the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) by three officers led to the accidental firing of the missile leaves several loopholes and inconsistencies open and is in truth an entirely unfitting and underplayed conclusion to what was a grave mistake of international consequence.

It is therefore a much-needed development that Pakistan’s Foreign Office has not let this report go by unobjected to. Pakistan on Wednesday rejected the Indian investigation report and the sacking of three Indian Air officers as unsatisfactory, deficient and inadequate.

This statement was necessary. The reason that Pakistan did not respond with animosity as it could to the March missile incident was to keep the peace of the region. Pakistan’s coolness does not in any way diminish the seriousness of the incident; the gravity of a huge nuclear state unable to control accidents should not escape the attention of the international community. Such incidents pose questions about India’s capability of implementing safeguards and cannot be excused merely by scapegoating a few officers. The problem clearly goes beyond human error and touches upon India’s inability to control its military programmes and infrastructure, and India’s neighbours have a right to demand greater accountability.

Systemic loopholes and technical lapses of a serious nature in the handling of strategic weapons cannot be covered up beneath the veneer of individual human error. If indeed India has nothing to hide then it must accept Pakistan’s demand for a joint probe in the spirit of transparency. A joint probe is fair and should alleviate the concerns of Pakistan and the international community.

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