Islamabad: President Pervez Musharraf accused Pakistan’s enemies on Friday of spreading fears about the country’s atomic weapons, as the military test-fired a nuclear-capable missile, the army said.
Musharraf’s comments came amid mounting concern in the West about whether the politically unstable South Asian nation’s estimated 50 warheads are safe from Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.
“We have taken note of various imaginary scenarios being propounded by those who do not wish Pakistan well. Such elements have never reconciled to a nuclear Pakistan,” an army statement quoted Musharraf as saying.
Musharraf said Pakistan was capable of thwarting all threats to its sovereignty and nuclear capability, and urged “such elements” to be cautious, according to the statement.
He made the comments after witnessing the launch of the intermediate-range Ghauri (Hatf V) ballistic missile.
The missile, which has a range of 1,300 kilometers (807 miles), was launched at the end of annual field training exercises.
Army chief Ashfaq Kiyani, who replaced Musharraf as head of the military in November, senior military officers and scientists also witnessed the test, the statement said.
Kiyani made similar comments at the launch of another missile a week ago when he dismissed “unrealistic” fears that Pakistan’s nuclear warheads could fall into the wrong hands.
Musharraf congratulated the team behind the latest launch on “achieving high standards of training and excellent results.”
“The nation has developed a strong nuclear deterrence capability and expects that officers and men entrusted with the task of deterring aggression would continue to train hard and maintain professional excellence,” he said.
Pakistan and its regional rival India make frequent missile test launches. The two countries have fought three wars since 1947 and carried out tit-for-tat nuclear test detonations in 1998.