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Pakistan Protests Over Airspace Intrusion By India

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) -- Pakistan has summoned a senior Indian diplomat in Islamabad to protest against recent alleged airspace violations by Indian warplanes, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

The violations, denied by India, occurred at a time when relations between the two nuclear-armed rivals have been severely strained by last month's attacks on Mumbai by militants India says came from Pakistan.

The Indian fighter jets crossed into Pakistani airspace over Kashmir and Punjab Province, the government said on December 13.

Pakistan said its own fighter jets were scrambled to chase off the intruders, but it also played down the incident by describing the violations as "technical" and "inadvertent."

India's deputy high commissioner, Manpreet Vohra, was given a written protest against the intrusions, saying they contravened a 1991 agreement aimed at preventing such incidents, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

An Indian air force spokesman insisted on December 18 that no Pakistani airspace violation had taken place.

"We stand by what we said earlier, that we have not violated their airspace. This is not true," said the spokesman, Wing Commander Mahesh Upasani.

Two Indian air force planes were shot down in a 1999 conflict in the Kargil region of divided Kashmir, after which there have been few reported violations.

Cricket Tour Cancelled

In related news, India called off its planned cricket tour of Pakistan next year.

"The proposed tour of the Indian cricket team to Pakistan stands cancelled," Rajeev Shukla, a senior official from the Board of Control for Cricket in India, told reporters outside India's parliament.

The January 13-February 19 tour was to have involved three tests, five one-day games, and a Twenty20 international, but required government approval.

"Taking into account the recent developments as well as the overall circumstances prevailing at present, it is not considered feasible to ask government permission for the proposed tour," Shukla said.

Political commentators said the decision would further harm relations between India and Pakistan, which are both passionate about cricket.