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 Monday, 20 January, 2003, 17:08 GMT
South Asia 'missile race' row
Agni missile
An Agni missile is prepared for Sunday's Republic Day
Pakistan has reacted angrily after India carried out its third missile test in 11 days.

''India wants to provoke us in this missile race and we will not be provoked," said Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.

The test launch came as the countries traded accusations they were harassing each other's diplomats.

Delhi tested the Akash surface-to-air missile on Monday from a mobile launcher in the eastern state of Orissa.

This reflects India's obsession with war. We will not be intimidated

Pakistan Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed
It had also test-fired the missile system on Saturday.

On 9 January, India test-launched a more powerful short-range ballistic missile, the Agni-I, capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

That launch came a day after Pakistan had inducted into its military its Ghauri nuclear-capable missile, five of which it test-fired last year.

Missile programme

Mr Ahmed said of Monday's test: ''This reflects India's obsession with war. We will not be intimidated - no matter how many tests India conducts.

Ghauri missile
Pakistan's Ghauri came into service on 8 January

''We do not want to join the arms race... But we know how to defend Pakistan.''

The Akash missile is one of five being developed by India's Defence Research and Development Organisation.

It has a range of 25 kilometres (15 miles) and can carry a payload of up to 50 kilograms.

Defence sources say the missile could be ready for the military by the end of the year.

Rahul Bedi, of Jane's Defence Weekly, said the tests were bound to raise the temperature in the region.

''India and Pakistan have a tit-for-tat tradition," he told the BBC. "When any side carries out nuclear or other missile tests, the other side always reacts.''

Diplomat row

The two countries came close to war last year after an Islamic militant attack on the Indian parliament that India says was planned by Pakistan's spy agency.

India has ruled out any first strike with nuclear weapons, but reserves the right to use them in the event of an attack using non-conventional arms.

Pakistani soldier on the Kashmir border
The tension brought the rivals close to war last year
Pakistan has not ruled out the first use of nuclear weapons in the event of a major attack.

The tension over defence issues was echoed on Monday by claims from both countries that their diplomats were being harassed.

India lodged a strong protest against what it called the unprecedented harassment by Pakistani agents of its most senior diplomat in Islamabad.

Islamabad denied the claim and said it had lodged its own complaint over India's mistreatment of Pakistani envoys in Delhi.

Delhi said its charge d'affaires, Sudhir Vyas, was repeatedly blocked by Pakistani agents as he tried to attend a diplomatic function.

Islamabad said it had lodged a complaint with India on 7 January over an unspecified harassment of Pakistani acting High Commissioner Jalil Abbas Jillani.

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  ON THIS STORY
  Pakistani Minister of Information Sheikh Rashid
"We believe the whole world will take notice and condemn this action"
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20 Jan 03 | South Asia
17 Jan 03 | South Asia
10 Jan 03 | South Asia
07 Jan 03 | South Asia
08 Jan 03 | South Asia
04 Jan 03 | South Asia
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