INTERNATIONAL

Fifth missile test by Pakistan in a year

ISLAMABAD, NOV. 29. Pakistan today test-fired a short-range nuclear-capable `Ghaznavi' or Hatf-III, a surface-to-surface missile with a range of 290 km.

"The test was part of a series of tests planned... in order to verify certain parameters and to further refine different subsystems of the missile," the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) of the military said in a statement.

Parameters validated

"The flight data collected indicates that all the design parameters have been successfully validated," it said without elaborating on the details. It is the fifth missile test by Pakistan during the year.

The latest test would help Government put at rest fears that the Government has been forced to go slow on the nuclear and missile development programmes in the wake of the Abdul Qadeer Khan nuclear proliferation scandal.

The controversy erupted this year after the Government stripped the disgraced scientist of all the honours conferred on him and religious parties unleashed a campaign that it had done so under pressure from United States. Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, has sought to reassure the country repeatedly that the Government has no plans to roll back the nuclear and missile programmes.

Director General of ISPR, Shaukat Sultan, claimed that Pakistan would further develop its nuclear and missile programmes. "Today's test is part of the tests which we conduct to improve different designed parameters and technical capabilities of our missiles," Maj. Gen. Sultan said.

He said Ghaznavi missile has already been included in the Strategic Command of Pakistan Army. According to him the tested missile is fully capable of carrying all types of warheads including nuclear, up to a range of 290 km.

"Whenever needed, the tests would be carried out to meet technical requirements and improve the designed parameters." Asked about possibility of more tests in this series, the DG ISPR said, "I cannot give the exact schedule but the tests would continue."

Following the convention Pakistan informed its neighbours including India ahead of the test.

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