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Pakistan Condemns India's Missile Test - 2003-01-09


Pakistan has condemned India's latest test firing of a nuclear-capable missile, saying it demonstrates a "war-mongering mindset" of Indian leadership.

Pakistani officials say Thursday's Indian ballistic missile test is not an unexpected development. Information Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed accused India of using the test as part of efforts to impose its "hegemony" in the region.

India's missile test comes one day after Pakistan approved the Army to receive Ghauri missiles for its arsenal. The rocket has a medium range of up to 1500 kilometers and can carry both conventional and nuclear weapons.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars and their relations remain tense because of a dispute over the Kashmir region. In recent days, both nations have exchanged hostile words, threatening each other with possible nuclear consequences if either takes aggressive military action.

Analysts here, like retired Army general, Talat Masood, say such statements about weapons of mass destruction pose a serious threat to the security in South Asia. "You know both the countries are systematically developing their nuclear and missile capabilities in a very robust way in fact, and to some extent in an alarming way," he said. "And both the countries are also validating the capabilities of their missiles by testing. I only hope that they will not deploy these missiles because that would aggravate the situation. And there is also extensive nuclear and missile rhetoric, which is going on, which is aggravating tensions between the two countries."

Mr. Masood says that despite intense international pressure, India and Pakistan are refusing to take steps to permanently ease tensions and improve bilateral relations. "That is the most ironic part," said Talat Masood. "Although the United States has been advising both the countries and counseling them, so are the Europeans and so are the Japanese, but it seems that its on deaf ears that all this advice is going. And is it meant for domestic audience? Are they trying to divert the attention from the real problems that are being faced in South Asia? It seems so."

India and Pakistan spend billions of dollars annually to build up their military capabilities. Critics maintain the poor economic conditions and increasing poverty in South Asia are the result of such policies.

Meanwhile, Pakistani and Indian soldiers exchanged fire along the line of control dividing Kashmir - killing a relief worker.

India accuses Pakistan of inciting rebellion in the mostly Muslim Kashmir region - over which both countries claim sovereignty. Islamabad rejects the charge saying it provides moral support for the legitimate struggle of the Kashmiri people.

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