No more an 'impressive impression'

ISLAMABAD Dec. 7 . In yet another peace gesture ahead of the SAARC summit, the Pakistan Government has demolished a massive replica of the Ghouri missile erected at an intersection in the heart of the national capital.

The replica, erected after Pakistan went nuclear in May 1998, in the wake of similar tests conducted by India, was considered a sign of the country's military prowess. Such replicas are a common sight in other parts of the country.

There have been demands from the civil society to demolish the "grotesque" replicas on the ground that they depicted killer weapons and should not be displayed in public. However, the Government never bothered about such voices.

The decision to pull down the missile model is obviously meant to create a more conducive atmosphere for the SAARC summit to be attended by Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, among others.

The demolition was part of the capital city's beautification plan, Pakistan's Interior Minister, Faisal Saleh Hayat, told reporters here.

But officials of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) were more forthright in their comments. It was not giving any "impressive impression" of Pakistan and therefore a peace statue would replace it, they said. Considering the emotions it could evoke, the officials brought it down with heavy cranes late last night and said missile models in other parts too would be replaced with more aesthetic statues.

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