- NEW DELHI - Pakistan vowed Monday to match rival India's test of a new
nuclear-capable missile after a trial launch by New Delhi that raised the
specter of a further South Asian arms race.
- Indian newspapers hailed Sunday's test
flight of the Agni II ballistic missile, whose range of at least 2,000
km (1,250 miles) could reach deep into China or Pakistan. The country's
politicians briefly put aside their bickering to applaud.
- China voiced fears of a regional weapons
- New Delhi shrugged off criticism of its
first ballistic missile trial in five years and said it would press on
with its security objectives.
- "India will be doing everything
necessary flowing from its policy of a credible minimum deterrent,'' a
foreign ministry official said.
- He said the missile launch should not
come as a surprise because it was part of a security policy which evolved
after India's series of underground nuclear tests 11 months ago.
- Since the blasts, Washington has led
Western efforts to draw India into the global regime for nuclear arms control
and has urged it to exercise restraint on missile development.
- The Agni II missile is seen as a deterrent
to nuclear-armed China, which Monday joined the United States, Britain,
Japan and Thailand in expressing regret over the Agni launch.
- "It could trigger a new round of
arms race in South Asia,'' China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"The Chinese side expresses regret and concern.''
- Pakistan was under pressure at home to
answer India's missile test with one of its own, fuelling concern that
recent efforts by the rival nations to mend fences would be wasted.
- "It is necessary that the government
should respond immediately, so that they can boost the morale of the people,''
the deputy chief of Pakistan's main Islamist Jamaat-i-Islami party, Liaqat
Baluch, told Reuters.
- There was no immediate indication that
Pakistan would carry out a tit-for-tat test firing of its own Ghauri or
Shaheen missiles, but Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz told Reuters Sunday
that Islamabad's response would be "befitting.''
- Pakistan's army chief said Monday that
Islamabad would respond to India's missile test, but did not say when and
- "No Indian should have a doubt that
we cannot respond. We have all the capability, we have everything,'' General
Pervez Musharraf said to the local English Speaking Union.
- He later told reporters: "We can
react very soon.''
- "If they (Pakistan) test a missile
tomorrow, I will not be surprised,'' former Indian prime minister Inder
Kumar Gujral told television agency Asian News International (ANI) in an
- The Karachi Stock Exchange fell by almost
three percent on uncertainty on how Pakistan would respond.
- Diplomats said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
was under the same kind of pressure which followed India's nuclear tests
last May, which Pakistan followed with trials of its own, earning crippling
Western sanctions and the wrath of a worried world.
- Analysts said a matching test could have
negative fallout for Islamabad's talks with donor nations in Paris next
- A bus trip by Prime Minister Vajpayee
to Pakistan in February had cooled sentiments that followed rival nuclear
tests last year.
- Sunday's missile test revived fears of
tension, but India acted carefully by informing Islamabad of the test in
- Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, Pakistan's high
commissioner in India, met Vajpayee Monday. The Press Trust of India (PTI)
said they reaffirmed friendly ties.
- In New Delhi, where the coalition government
is teetering on the verge of collapse, politicians of all hues closed ranks
to praise the country's defense scientists.
- "We are not seeing the launch of
Agni II from a political angle,'' Ajit Jogi, spokesman for the main opposition
Congress party, told a news conference. "We congratulate our scientists,
engineers and soldiers related to defense.''
- But Jyoti Basu, Chief Minister of West
Bengal state and a leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), dubbed
the move a "political stunt'' by Vajpayee's Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP) and had "nothing to do with defense.''
- BJP spokesman Venkaiah Naidu told a news
conference that the "entire country'' was happy that India had tested
- Newspapers said Sunday's test flight
from India's eastern coast had put the country firmly into the world missile
- "Agni II powers India forward,''
the Asian Age proclaimed.