ISLAMABAD: Pakistan successfully testfired two missiles capable of carrying nuclear and conventional warheads on Saturday prompting Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to call for the country’s recognition as a nuclear power.
The two ballistic missiles, the Ghaznavi with a range of 290 kilometres, and the Shaheen 1, with a reach of up to 650 kilometres, both “successfully hit the target areas,” said a military statement. “These experiments today were part of what Pakistan has been doing to develop a delivery system for nuclear capability.
You can’t have nuclear power unless you have the means of delivering,” said defence analyst Prof. Hasan Askari Rizvi. At the same time, the test is a continuation of the military’s previous Azm-e-Nau exercises, “meant to send a clear signal to India that Pakistan is militarily ready to fight on both sides of the border,” added analyst Talat Hussain.
At the conclusion of the annual field training exercises of the Army Strategic Force Command (ASFC), the prime minister, called on the international community to recognise Pakistan as a nuclear a power and to give it access to civilian nuclear energy, reported AFP. “It is time for the world to recognise Pakistan as a de jure nuclear power with equal rights and responsibilities,” Gilani said. He demanded a Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) waiver for Pakistan saying, “energy is a vital economic security need of Pakistan and nuclear energy is a clean way forward.”
On his statement, “Gilani is picking up where he left off in the strategic dialogue with the US,” Talat Hussain commented. The continued efforts to get similar privileges to nuclear energy as India did, receiving its recent waiver from the NSG is “perhaps a pitch for the upcoming round of talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, at the end of this year,” he added.
Prime Minister Gilani, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Tariq Majeed and other senior military and civilian officials witnessed the tests, the military said. The 45-member NSG controls the export and sale of nuclear technology worldwide. Its rules usually ban trade with states that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Pakistan is not a signatory.
India and Israel are two other nuclear states that are not members of the NPT. Pakistan’s arsenal includes short-range, medium and longrange missiles named after Muslim conquerors. (WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY FATIMA MOHSIN)
Published in the Express Tribune, May 09/05/2010