Pakistan Tests Missiles in Arabian Sea

NTI: Pakistan today conducted test-launches of new missiles and torpedoes from warplanes, submarines and surface vessels in the Arabian Sea, Agence France-Presse reported.

The “Pakistan navy fleet today tested its firepower in the north Arabian Sea to assess lethality, precision and efficacy of its weapon system,” the navy said.

Antisurface missiles from a warship, air-to-surface missiles from P-3C airplanes and submarine-launched missiles from Agosta vessels built in France were all successfully tested, the navy said.

“While reassuring Pakistan navy’s commitment of defending the motherland, this strike capability would also send a message of deterrence to anyone harboring nefarious designs against Pakistan,” the navy’s statement said.

The South Asian nation possess short- and medium-range missiles as well as long-range weapons that can carry nuclear warheads, AFP reported (Agence France-Presse I/Google News, March 12).

There was no immediate word on whether the missiles tested today were nuclear-capable, the Associated Press reported.

Pakistan and its nuclear-armed rival, India, have used firepower tests in the past to demonstrate to each other their respective military might.

Officials from India did not respond to initial requests for comment on the weaponry tests.

In a speech today in New Delhi, Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said Pakistan has a long history of being a “very difficult neighbor” (Tim Sullivan, Associated Press/Google News, March 12).

He said Pakistan “must reinvent itself … to become a truly democratic country where real power lies in democratically elected leader’s hands,” AFP reported.

“The two countries are nuclear powers, so war is not an option,” Chidambaram said. “We must talk when we can, at other times we have to simply be vigilant and alert” (Agence France-Presse II/Google News, March 12).

The two South Asian nations have already fought three wars. New Delhi called off their bilateral peace process after militants in 2008 killed more than 160 people in the Indian city of Mumbai. India has accused Islamabad of not doing enough to suppress the Pakistani-based extremists it blames for the attacks (seeGSN, March 4).

The two countries’ foreign secretaries met last month in New Delhi in the first formal step toward restarting the peace talks, Reuters reported.

“We tried to make a beginning with the foreign secretary talks, but nothing came out of it [I] am afraid,” Chidambaram said. “But I am told we are still open to another round of talks between the foreign secretaries.”

Pakistani High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik said today that his country has “suggested a road map for future interaction and we hope India will respond to that.”

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has supported the peace process, though New Delhi would be constrained in moving in that direction by further strikes such as the February bombing that killed 16 people in the city of Pune (Krittivas Mukherjee, Reuters, March 12).