Pakistan's tit-for-tat missile test fuels arms race

CONCERN OVER an accelerating arms race in South Asia has deepened after Pakistan tested an advanced medium range missile, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead deep into India, Iran or China.

The test of the Ghauri or HATF-V missile yesterday came as no surprise after India tested its own equivalent, the Agni N-2, on Sunday. Immediately after the Indians announced their test Pakistan made clear it would respond rapidly. The Ghauri, named after a medieval Muslim warrior king, was fired from a test site near the northern city of Jhelum and took 12 minutes to travel 730 miles to land on the shores of the Arabian Sea. The Pakistani authorities said the flight was "completely successful" but disclosed few facts about it. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said the missile can carry a 1,000kg payload up to 1,300 miles and stressed that it could "be tipped with any type of warhead".

Defence sources say the new missile is also the first in Pakistan to be fitted with state of the art technology, allowing it to be guided accurately on to its target.

The spokesman said the test demonstrated Pakistan's "determination to defend our geographic boundaries and strengthen national security". He denied that Pakistan wanted a "nuclear and missile race in South Asia". There was no immediate response to the test from the Indian government.

Last summer, both countries conducted a series of nuclear tests in spite of massive international opposition. The resulting economic sanctions hit hard although India, with its huge economy and greater foreign currency reserves, has weathered their effect more successfully. Although this week's tests are a setback for international efforts to restrict the two nations' arms development programmes, diplomats say the situation on the subcontinent has improved sharply in the last 12 months.

"If anything, the two tests have lowered the tension between the two countries. There is nothing like the belligerence and angst we saw last year," said one Pakistan diplomat in the West.

Both nations appear to have followed the procedures laid out in the Lahore Declaration - signed by both countries' Prime Ministers in February - and informed each other of their test plans well in advance. The leaders of the two countries have also recently hinted that they may sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty which covers nuclear testing, later this year.

Analysts say, however, that though the threat of military conflict appears to have receded, there is still concern that the strain of military expenditure on the two nations' economies may undermine attempts to stabilise the region.

"We are now seeing the sort of arms race which proved immensely costly even to well developed Western economies," said Professor Zafar Iqbal Cheema of the Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad. "Pakistan is just not equipped for that sort of expenditure."

Pakistan is believed to be receiving assistance with its missile development from North Korea. That has been denied and the Foreign Ministry statement issued yesterday stressed that the newly tested missile was part of Pakistan's "indigenous programme".

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
TVSPOILER ALERT: It's all coming together as series returns to form
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine