Pakistan ups nuclear rhetoric, carries out launch of ballistic missile

BY AJAY BANERJEE | Tribune News Service New Delhi August 29, 2019

Pakistan has successfully test-fired surface-to-surface ballistic missile ‘Ghaznavi’, capable of delivering multiple warheads up to 290 km, the Army said on Thursday, amid fresh Indo-Pak tensions after India revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

Pakistan on Wednesday closed three aviation routes of the Karachi airspace till August 31, which had promoted speculation about the possible missile-testing.

With this, Pakistan upped its ‘nuclear rhetoric’. The Director General of Inter Service Public Relations (DG-ISPR) said Pakistan on Wednesday night tested a short range nuclear missile in Sindh.

Called ‘Ghaznavi’, it is a short-range-solid-fuelled, road-mobile-ballistic missile.

Three days ago, on August 26, Pakistan had informed India about the test of a short-range ballistic missile.

It is a surface-to-surface weapon, meaning it can be fired from ground and hit targets on ground.

An agreement on missile testing protocols between India and Pakistan inked in October 2005 requires prior information for such a launch.

The move comes after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in a recent broadcast to his nation on Kashmir said: “If the conflict for Kashmir heads towards a war, then remember both nations have nuclear weapons and no one is a winner in a nuclear war. This conflict will have global consequence.”

Two weeks ago, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had said India’s commitment to ‘No First Use’ (NFU) policy for nuclear weapons is for “now” but “what happens in future depends on the circumstances”.

Singh was at Pokhran—the site of two of India’s nuclear tests—where he paid homage to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the latter’s first death anniversary.

The statement was an indication that the NFU was under review.

In the past, former defence minister Manohar Parrikar had suggested that there should be ambiguity about nuclear policy to avoid “revealing our cards”.

At the time, the government had clarified that the remark was made in a personal capacity.

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