Islamabad, Oct. 8 (Reuters): Pakistan said it successfully test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile today just two days before it holds a general election.
The test was the second of a two-test series that political analysts said was aimed primarily at rival India at a time when the nuclear-armed neighbours were confronting each other over the disputed Kashmir region. Today’s exercise coincides with the last phase of polls in Kashmir.
On Friday, Pakistan said it had test-fired a medium-range Hatf-IV (Shaheen-1) surface-to-surface missile. Hours later, India test-fired a short-range surface-to-air missile of its own.
Today’s test by Pakistan involved the same type of missile as the first, according to the Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations Directorate. “This test was in continuation to the one conducted on October 4, 2002, to validate certain additional parameters,” the directorate said in a statement.
“These parameters stand completely validated in the light of data collected from the test. The test concludes for now the series of planned tests.”
Jane’s Defence Weekly says the Shaheen-1 has a range of about 700 km.
Today’s test will strengthen Musharraf’s position in the minds of his people, said Khalid Mehmood, of the Institute of Regional Studies in Islamabad.
Benazir beamed live
Benazir Bhutto, the self-exiled former Pakistan premier banned from this week’s elections, was beamed live via satellite to a rally in Lahore attended by 10,000 emotional followers.
From London Bhutto, wearing a yellow headscarf, appeared last night on a massive makeshift cloth screen hung in the grounds of Lahore’s ancient walled city.
“The generals are afraid of me. That’s why they won’t let me come back to Pakistan,” she said, sparking thunderous cries of “Prime Minister Benazir! Prime Minister Benazir!”
Police had confiscated the mega-screen originally to be used for the link-up.