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Saturday, 25 May, 2002, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
Pakistan hails missile test success
Pakistani Ghauri missile during a parade
The Ghauri is a medium-range missile
Pakistan says it has successfully test-fired a medium range ballistic missile, amid growing concern over the potential for war with neighbouring India.


We don't want war, but we are ready for war

Pakistan's President Musharraf
It is the first stage of a missile testing programme, announced on Friday and scheduled to last several days.

More than a million Indian and Pakistani troops are massed on their common border as tension over the disputed region of Kashmir continues.

President George W Bush said he was "deeply concerned" about the tension between the two countries and called on Islamabad to prevent all cross-border incursions.

India said the test was not linked to the current crisis - something Islamabad has also been keen to highlight.

But the BBC's Jill McGivering says that in the current context of high tension and intense military build-up, every move is being carefully scrutinised.

The partitioned region of Kashmir has been the cause of two earlier wars between the two countries, which have subsequently become nuclear powers.

India unimpressed

In a statement issued on Saturday morning, the Pakistani military said the test of the Hatf-5 Ghauri missile "demonstrated Pakistan's determination to defend itself, strengthen national security and consolidate strategic balance in the region".

President Pervez Musharraf praised those responsible for the test of the surface-to-surface, nuclear-capable missile.

Click here for the strategic balance between India and Pakistan

"I want to congratulate you. At 9:30 am [Saturday] our missile fired 1,500 kilometres [900 miles]. It showed total accuracy. It hit the target," he said at a religious gathering.

He added: "We don't want war, but we are ready for war."

India was "not impressed" by the test-firing, a defence ministry spokesman said.

Supporting Pakistani claims that the test firing was not linked to the current crisis between the two nuclear armed neighbours, the spokesman said the launch was designed to enhance President Musharraf's standing at home rather than threaten India.

Americans warned away

The United States had said it was "very disappointed" by Pakistan's plans.

The US has warned its citizens to postpone any plans to travel to India or Pakistan - and urged any Americans in either country to consider leaving.


Kashmir conflict:
  • 1947 - India and Pakistan fight first war over disputed region
  • 1965 - India blames Pakistan for insurgency, war breaks out again
  • 1989 - Insurgency starts in Indian-administered Kashmir
  • 1999 - Heavy clashes around Kargil in Indian-administered Kashmir


  • The State Department said conditions along the border between the two countries, as well as in the disputed state of Kashmir, had deteriorated to such an extent that what it called "intensified military hostilities" could not be ruled out.

    The international community is working hard to shift the focus from conflict and towards diplomacy as the two sides continue to fire at each other across the border in Kashmir.

    The European Union's foreign affairs commissioner, Chris Patten, the first in a series of high-profile visitors to the region, has warned that India is fast losing patience with Pakistan over Kashmir.

    Speaking in Delhi after talks with Indian officials on Friday, Mr Patten said the situation was "on a knife-edge" and warned Pakistan to give up supporting terrorism.

    'Two months' grace'

    Pakistan's announcement of its missile tests on Friday came as it appeared that the crisis was easing slightly.

    A leading Indian newspaper, the Hindustan Times, reported that Delhi was giving Islamabad two months to stop cross-border attacks in Kashmir before military action was taken.

    Pakistani President Pervez Musharaf has blamed India for the tension and vowed to fight to defend "every inch of Pakistan" if attacked.

    Mr Musharraf told the BBC's Hardtalk programme that "no sane person would like to go to war" and accused India of having "the capability of undertaking any adventurous act".

    India began the initial build-up after it said Pakistan had supported a bloody attack on the federal parliament in Delhi last December.

    However, analysts have seen the departure of Mr Vajpayee for a weekend break as a sign that there will be no immediate military operation.



    Click here to return

     WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Mike Wooldridge
    "The missile tests will inevitably be taken as muscle flexing"
    Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf
    "We don't want war"
    EU's External Affairs Commissioner, Chris Patten
    "We are on a knife edge"
    Click here fror background reports and analysis

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    See also:

    24 May 02 | South Asia
    23 May 02 | South Asia
    23 May 02 | South Asia
    23 May 02 | South Asia
    23 May 02 | Media reports
    22 May 02 | South Asia
    17 Jan 01 | South Asia
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