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Pakistan Reacts Strongly to Latest Indian Missile Tests

FILE - A surface-to-air missile is launched during exercise 'Iron Fist' at Pokhran, India, March 18, 2016.

Pakistan reacted with “serious concerns" to archrival India’s recent test-firing of an anti-ballistic missile system and nuclear-armed submarine-based missiles in the Indian Ocean.

These developments “are now leading to nuclearization of Indian Ocean” and Pakistan will take “all necessary measures” to defend its borders, foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz told the national parliament on Thursday.

India announced on May 15 it had test-fired a locally designed single-stage Ashvin advanced defense interceptor missile from a mobile launcher, saying it successfully destroyed an incoming nuclear-capable ballistic missile.

“The deployment of these nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed missiles in the Indian Ocean will not only upset the strategic balance in South Asia, but will also affect the maritime security of all the 32 littoral states around the Indian Ocean,” Aziz said.

He added that Pakistan is not “oblivious” to its defense needs and will have to “upgrade its defensive capabilities through suitable technologies.”

'False sense of security'

“The development of an anti-ballistic missile system may give India a false sense of security, leading to unexpected complications,” Aziz said, warning that Pakistan’s efforts for peace and friendship with India must not be interpreted as a sign of weakness.

Officials in Islamabad say their ballistic missiles can carry nuclear warheads to any part of India and development of battlefield “tactical” nuclear weapons has “effectively” countered the massive rival nation’s alleged designs of imposing a sudden conventional war on Pakistan.

Pakistan plans to highlight, internationally, “the dangerous implications of India’s plans to nuclearize” the Indian Ocean, he told lawmakers.

“One specific proposal under consideration is to move a resolution in the next session of the [U.N.] General Assembly in September 2016 to declare the Indian Ocean a nuclear-free zone,” Aziz said.

India and Pakistan tested nuclear devices in May 1998, raising fears of a nuclear confrontation in region. The two countries have fought three wars since 1947, and tensions over the divided Kashmir region have hampered efforts to improve bilateral relations.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government maintains it seeks neighborly relations with India.

Negotiations seen vital

The countries need to engage with each other and resolve their disputes through peaceful negotiations, Sharif’s national security adviser, Nasir Janjua, told VOA.

“We are two nuclear states. We need to engage with each other,” Janjua said. “If we can’t be friends, let us not be enemies. We can’t be enemies forever. Otherwise, we will destroy each other."

A wide-ranging peace dialogue between India and Pakistan remains suspended. A recent diplomatic effort to get talks started was derailed by a terrorist attack on an Indian military base in January near the border with Pakistan.

New Delhi alleged the attack was planned and executed by Pakistan-based militants.

Officials in Islamabad insist they are cooperating in the Indian investigation, and a team of Pakistani experts also visited the Pathankot base as part of their own probe into the attack.