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Pak vows to improve nuclear, missile capabilities

K J M Varma in Islamabad | August 14, 2005 19:03 IST

Marking its 59th Independence Day, Pakistan on Sunday vowed to improve its nuclear and missile capabilities while asserting that the resolution of the Kashmir issue was 'a must for durable peace' in South Asia.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz hoisted the national flag at an indoor auditorium in Islamabad due to security concerns.

Without directly referring to India, he said in his speech that Pakistan would continue the process of improving its nuclear and missile capabilities to keep pace with the changing scenario in the neighbourhood, a day after Information Minister Sheikh Rashid stated that the country was on course to develop a 1000-km-range missile.

"The most recent example is the successful test-firing of Babur cruise missile. It is a great responsibility to safeguard our independence. Pakistan today is a nuclear power and no one can cast an evil eye on our beloved country," Aziz said.

He said regional peace is directly linked to justice and fair-play. "Solution of the burning issue of Kashmir is a must
for durable peace in South Asia. Its resolution must reflect aspirations of the Kashmiri people."

On the occasion, President Pervez Musharraf said the nation should reject elements who want to drag Pakistan into darkness, referring to his campaign against extremism.

"I appeal to the nation to reject the retrogressive elements politically and socially as they are opposed to progress," he said. 

Information Minister Rashid told a public meeting in Rawalpindi on Saturday night that after the successful test of 500-km range Babur cruise missile, Pakistan was developing yet another missile with a range of 1000 km, local news agency
Online reported.

After the test-firing of the cruise missile, Pakistan would further develop its missile capability, he said.

In his address on Sunday, Aziz said Pakistan's defence capability is a guarantee of peace and regional balance of power and all resources would be provided to strengthen this capability.

He also said Pakistan is trying to promote friendship and cooperation with India with a view to addressing all issues.

The composite dialogue process is proceeding ahead, he noted and hoped that India would adopt a 'positive attitude to
sustain it'.

Aziz claimed that Pakistan is pursuing an independent foreign policy and would make every possible contribution for
regional peace and security.

While appealing to discard the obscurantist forces, Musharraf, who on Saturday night sang and danced along with top
musicians and artists to the tunes of patriotic songs at a function at the President's House in Islamabad, said the August 12 cruise missile test was a gift of the 'talented' scientists to the nation on the Independence Day.

"Nobody should harbour any doubts that Pakistan has come to stay -- we shall make Pakistan a strong country," he said at the function telecast live by the state-run PTV.

The General, dressed in trendy ethnic clothes, danced for a while on stage along with his wife Sehba and Prime Minister
Aziz and other top officials to the tunes of patriotic songs.

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