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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 February 2006, 17:09 GMT
Pakistan will not rename missiles
Pakistan manufactured Haft series missiles
Missiles are a huge source of national pride in Pakistan
Pakistan has said it will not rename some of its missiles, despite objections from Kabul which says Afghan heroes' names are being misused.

A spokeswoman in Islamabad said the two countries shared heroes as part of their common history and culture.

Afghan Information Minister Sayed Makhdum Rahin had asked Islamabad not to link Afghan rulers' names with "tools of destruction and killing".

The missiles are named after Muslim conquerors who defeated Hindu rulers.

Their names should be bracketed with academic, cultural and peace-promoting institutions
Afghan Information Minister Sayed Makhdum Rahin

The Ghauri, Ghaznawi and Abdali ballistic missiles - capable of carrying nuclear warheads - were developed by Pakistan to counter the threat posed by its arch-rival India's nuclear arsenal.

The missiles are a source of national pride in Pakistan.

The Muslim conquerors they are named after won battles between the 11th and 18th centuries and governed parts of what is now Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

'Not controversial'

Tasneem Aslam, Pakistan's foreign office spokeswoman, said Islamabad had received no official request from the Afghan authorities to change the names of the missiles.

Replica of the Shaheen missile
Replicas of ballistic missiles adorn many of Islamabad's traffic islands

She said the Muslim conquerors were heroes in both countries and naming missiles after them was not controversial.

The grave of one of the conquerors, Ghauri, was in Pakistan's Punjab province and so to say they were solely Afghan heroes was not correct, Ms Aslam added.

Mr Rahin said on Wednesday he had sent a letter to Islamabad asking for the missile names to be changed.

"Their names should be bracketed with academic, cultural and peace-promoting institutions, not with tools of destruction and killing," he told the Pajhwok Afghan News agency.

"World-famous Afghans, like [Mahmud] Ghaznawi, [Ahmad Shah] Abdali and [Shahabuddin] Ghauri, had spread knowledge and civilisation from Afghanistan to the sub-continent of India."

'Interference'

Only last week, Pakistan tested the short range surface-to-surface ballistic missile, the Haft-II Abdali, named after the founder of the powerful Durrani dynasty, which helped shape modern Afghanistan.

The Ghauri missile, designed to threaten major cities across India, is named after Mohammed Ghauri, who in 1192 defeated a Rajput Hindu king near to where the Pakistan-India border now runs.

The Ghaznavid missile is named after Mahmud Ghaznavi, who was never defeated on the battlefield, and conquered Punjab in 1021.

Mr Rahin said Pakistan was welcome to use the names for peaceful things like monuments and conference rooms.

The BBC's Mark Dummet in Kabul says that many Afghans believe Pakistan interferes too much in its internal affairs.

Relations have been damaged by the presence of Taleban and al-Qaeda-led militants in the Pashtun tribal areas on both sides of the border.

Last week Afghan President Hamid Karzai visited Islamabad to urge Pakistan do more to crack down on the militants.




SEE ALSO:
Pakistan test-fires new missile
19 Feb 06 |  South Asia
Karzai in Pakistan terror talks
15 Feb 06 |  South Asia
Missing missiles irk Pakistanis
11 Dec 03 |  South Asia


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