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Pakistan test-fires cruise missile, joins select group

Friday 12 August 2005, by MURALIDHAR REDDY*B.

Peace process with India will move ahead, says Minister

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In this photo released by the Inter Services Public Relations Department, Pakistan’s first cruise missile is test-fired on Thursday from an undisclosed location. The missile, named Babur, has a range of 500 km. - Photo: AP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday conducted a successful test flight of its first-ever Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM) - Hatf VII Babur - that can carry nuclear and conventional warheads to a range of 500 km.

A statement by the military said that it is a terrain-hugging missile, with the most advanced and modern navigation and guidance system and a high degree of manoeuvrability.

The technology enables the missile to avoid radar detection and penetrate undetected any hostile defensive system, it said.

"By the Grace of Allah, all design parameters for the flight were validated. By conducting the successful test, Pakistan has joined a select group of countries, which have the capability to design and develop cruise missiles. Cruise missiles can also be launched from surface ships, submarines and aircraft", the military said.

``A milestone’’

It quoted President General Pervez Musharraf as saying that the successful test was a major milestone in Pakistan’s quest for strengthening and consolidating strategic capability.

The usual advance notice to neighbouring countries was not given. According to Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Naeem Khan the practice of advance intimation was followed only in case of ballistic missile tests.

Earlier this week India and Pakistan formalised an arrangement under which they notify each other in about about ballistic missile tests.

The agreement envisages advance notification of all ballistic missile tests conducted within a 40 km radius of each other’s borders.

Though it is for the first time Pakistan has conducted a ground-launched missile test, it has held several ballistic missile tests since the scandal involving A.Q. Khan in nuclear proliferation broke early last year.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said test-firing of the cruise missile should not be a matter of concern for India, as the peace process between the two countries would move ahead.

Talking to newsmen here, the Minister said Pakistan wanted to resolve all issues with India peacefully but it could not remain oblivious to its defence needs.

Islamabad would improve its missile technology, he said.

He said test-firing of the cruise missile was a gift to the nation on Independence Day (August 14) and birthday of President Musharraf who turned 62 on Thursday.

See online : The Hindu

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