Pakistan successfully test-fired a medium-range nuclear-capable missile on Saturday, a week after a new prime minister took office in nuclear-armed rival and neighbor India.
Senior officials indicated the test of the new version of the Ghauri V missile — a day after the fifth anniversary of the country’s first nuclear test — was part of routine testing to improve its missiles and would not have a negative impact on the peace process with India.
The new Ghauri V, which has a maximum range of 932 miles and can strike most major population centers in northern India, was test-fired from an undisclosed site and hit its target area, said army spokesman Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan.
Sultan said Pakistan had informed its neighbors beforehand, including India.
Pakistani Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali and senior military and government officials were present when the missile was test fired, Sultan said.
The test comes days after Jamali visited Pakistan’s nuclear weapons facility, where he was told that scientists have completed work to test fire Pakistan’s longest-range missile, called the Ghauri III, which will have a range of 2,175 miles. A test is expected next month.
Pakistan became a declared nuclear power on May 28, 1998, when it conducted underground nuclear tests, in response to earlier tests carried out by India. The two countries have a history of bitter relations and have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947.
Since coming to the brink of a fourth conflict in 2001, relations have thawed and leaders from both countries agreed to start a historic peace dialogue in January. India’s new prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf have both said they want the talks to continue and to improve relations.