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|April 14, 1999||
Celebrations in Pakistan as Ghauri II is test-fired
Pakistan test-fired its HATF-V (Ghauri) missile from the Tela firing range in Jhelum district. It has a range of 1,500 km, a foreign office statement said on Wednesday.
The missile, test-fired at 1045 hours, was manufactured at the Khan research laboratory, Kahuta, under the supervision of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, the statement said. However, KRL officials claimed the new missile has a capability to strike within a radius of 2,300 km.
Sharief told reporters at Gwadur, close to where the missile landed, that the Ghauri-II missile's range could be extended to 2,300 km by reducing its payload from the tested 1,000 kg (2,200 lbs).
The missile flew for 12 minutes and landed near the Jivani coastal area in Baluchistan, about 1,380 km from the Tela range. Baluchistan is where Pakistan's nuclear tests were conducted last year.
Pakistan Television said another Ghauri-II may be fired into the sea to test its full range. This was not achieved on Wednesday because Pakistan's landmass is too small for this.
After the launch, Sharief congratulated Dr Khan, and scientists and technicians associated with the test. Contrary to the normal practice of countdown before firing, the authorities simply raised slogans of Allah-O-Akbar.
Besides Dr Khan, senior military officers including were present at the launch site. Thousands of people lined up near Dr Khan's office in Chaklala, Rawalpindi, to greet him on the occasion.
In the bazaars of Islamabad, people handed out sweets, hugged each other and offered congratulations as news that Pakistan tested its newest ballistic missile filtered out.
There were words of praise for the test from hardline Islamic parties, who had been pressing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief to test the missile in response to Sunday's Agni II missile test by India.
''The test was essential and the need of the hour,'' the state-run news agency, Associated Press of Pakistan, quoted Jamaat-e-Islami leader Liaqat Baluch as saying.
''Islam says Muslims should be prepared to face their enemies and it was in the interest of our national honour to test,'' said Maulvi Abdul Hai, a religious leader from Pakistan's deeply conservative Northwest Frontier Province.
''We must be ready to respond very strongly to India's very aggressive designs,'' he said.
'By the grace of Allah, Pakistan conducted a flight test of its HATF-V (Ghauri) missile. This was the second test of the Ghauri, which can be tipped with any type of warhead. According to the data collected from the test all design parameters were validated,' the foreign ministry statement said.
The Ghauri was first tested on April 6, 1998 from the Tela range. That missile had a range of 1,500 km and a 700-kg payload.
As per the Lahore accord, Pakistan informed India about the test on Tuesday. 'We also informed all immediate neighbours,' the foreign office added.
According to KRL officials, the missile can deliver 1,000 kg of conventional and nuclear explosives, and is capable of hitting deep inside India.
The Ghauri II, an advanced version of a previously tested ballistic missile, is the longest range missile in Pakistan's arsenal.
The test was not a surprise with analysts anticipating Pakistan would respond to India's missile test.
Sharief said Pakistan tested the missile because it had the right to secure its defence, but sought no arms race. "There should be no arms race in the region,'' he said. "For over 50 years we have wasted our resources and time. Pakistan and India should settle all their problems, including Kashmir. There should be a race for development,'' the Pakistan premier said.
In January, there were reports that Pakistan had completed preparations for launching the Ghauri-II missile. It was then expected to be test-fired after Eid.
''We have a better missile than India and we can fire it whenever we want,'' said Ghulam Chaudhry, leader of a local businessmen's association in Islamabad. He organised about 100 businessmen to demonstrate in favour of the missile test.
Raja Riaz, who sells sweets in Islamabad, welcomed the news because it was good for business and it was necessary after India conducted its missile test on Sunday.
''We have been expecting the test for the last two days,'' Riaz said. ''It should have been done sooner.''
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