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|April 6, 1998||
Pak test-fires surface-to-surface missile
Pakistan today successfully test-fired a long-range, surface-to-surface missile, the foreign office announced.
The fifth in a series of missiles, it has a range of 1,500 km with a payload of 700 kg, the foreign office said.
''As part of our integrated missile research and development programme, we have carried out a successful flight test of the surface-to-surface missile, the Hatf-V (Ghauri) with a range of 1,500 km and a payload of 700 kilogrammes,'' the foreign ministry said.
"This test represents a step forward in Pakistan's indigenous missile and satellite launch programme,'' the statement said. ''Pakistan has achieved its indigenous missile capability through the dedication and commitment of our scientists and engineers.''
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief also broke the news during a lecture at the National Defence College in Islamabad. His audience greeted the news with applause.
''We have developed this in terms of our own security needs,'' Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesman Tariq Altaf said at a briefing that followed the announcement of the test. ''I don't think it is specific to anyone. Rather it is Pakistan-defence specific.''
When asked whether the newest missile in Pakistan's arsenal could deliver a nuclear weapon, Altaf said, ''Anything which flies can carry any kind of missile.''
It was not immediately clear when Pakistan would deploy its newest missile. Right now, Altaf said, ''It's in the research and development stage.''
Last month, press reports said Ghauri was to be tested on March 23, Pakistan's national day. But the plans were changed in view of the then forthcoming visit of Pakistan army chief, General Jehangir Karamat, to the United States, which opposes a missile race between the nuclear-capable India and Pakistan.
Washington has repeatedly accused China of helping Pakistan develop missiles because it supplied M-11 missiles to the Muslim country.
It even imposed temporary sanctions against China for allegedly contravening the Missile Technology Control Regime which restricts such help to missiles of up to the range of 350 kilometres.
Sources associated with defence development said the Ghauri was fired from Malute, near the city of Jhelum in north-eastern Pakistan, at 0725 hours local time and impacted the target near the southwestern city of Quetta at 0733 hours.
The test missile weighed 16 tonnes -- 13 tonnes of it fuel, one tonne warhead and the rest casing and equipment -- according to the sources.
After achieving its undeclared nuclear capability in the late 1980s, Pakistan started its missile development programme with the short range surface-to-surface Hatf (death) and surface-to-air Anza (lance) versions.
Those names came from the early Islamic history of warfare. But the name Ghauri for the long-range version is said to be linked with India and its Prithvi missile.
Press reports recently speculated that the missile was named after the 12th century Afghan king Shahbuddin Ghauri. Ghauri captured western parts of India between 1176 and 1182, but was defeated in his first battle for northern India by Prithviraj Chauhan in 1191.
Ghauri returned in June 1192 when he defeated Prithviraj. He captured Delhi in 1199, but established his kingdom formally in 1206.
Reacting to the development, India today said it was ascertaining facts about reports from Islamabad that Pakistan had successfully testfired a long-range surface-to-surface missile.
''We will comment at a suitable time,'' an external affairs ministry spokesman said in New Delhi, when asked to react to the announcement made in this regard by the Pakistan foreign office.
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