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Pakistan Calls Test of Medium Range Missile Successful - 2002-10-08

Pakistan says it has successfully carried out the second test in less than a week of its medium-range surface-to-surface missile

A government statement says that Tuesday's test was the second in a two-test series that began on Friday. The missile is reportedly capable of carrying both nuclear and conventional weapons up to 800 kilometers.

In a statement read on state-run television, President Pervez Musharraf congratulated the scientists who worked on the missile. The military leader is quoted as saying the successful launch of the locally-developed weapons system is the culmination of hard work and the dedication of Pakistan's leaders.

Pakistan has been developing nuclear weapons and missiles in competition with its next door rival, India. The two countries are currently locked in a tense military stand-off over the disputed territory of Kashmir, and Pakistani officials blame India for the current military tension.

"Pakistan is not the one which has started any kind of arms race in the region," insisted foreign ministry spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan. "We unfortunately have been constrained to do certain tests and so. They are not aimed at any situation or any thing. They are purely technical in nature and according to the technical requirements of testing."

Pakistan tested the medium-range Shaheen missile on Friday. Hours later, neighboring India test-fired a surface-to-air missile.

The United States has criticized both countries for these latest missile tests, saying that such actions could lead to an arms race in the region.

The latest Pakistani tests came just two days before parliamentary elections.

The military government is under fire by its opponents and international human rights groups for allegedly trying to rig the polls to ensure the victory of pro-government political parties.