Pakistan test fires Ghaznavi missile to raise war spectre, to focus next on Geneva meet

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
Jun 23, 2020 04:12 AM IST

The night training launch of the surface-to-surface ballistic missile, the Ghaznavi, was conducted early on Thursday.

Pakistan carried out a night training launch of surface-to-surface ballistic missile Ghaznavi early on Thursday, a move that coincides with its scaled-up effort to internationalise the Kashmir issue. Major General Asif Ghafoor, spokesperson of Pakistan Armed Forces, tweeted that the exercise was successful and put out a 30-second video clip of the missile launch along with a group photograph of officers with the missile.

Pakistan carried out a night training launch of surface to surface ballistic missile Ghaznavi early on Thursday(Twitter | @OfficialDGISPR)
Pakistan carried out a night training launch of surface to surface ballistic missile Ghaznavi early on Thursday(Twitter | @OfficialDGISPR)

The military spokesperson said the ballistic missile is capable of “delivering multiple types of warheads upto 290 km”. He added that Pakistan President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan had conveyed its appreciation to the team and congratulated the nation.

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That message from Imran Khan was a sharp contrast to the one delivered across the border by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He launched “Fit India” movement as a step towards a healthy and prosperous India.

The timing of the missile launch is seen as part of a two-pronged effort to internationalise the Kashmir issue at both military and diplomatic levels, and for impact, raise the spectre of nuclear war between the two countries.

Watch:Amid tension with India, Pakistan tests nuclear capable ballistic missile

Pakistan had first taken the Kashmir issue to the United Nations Security Council with help from its all-weather ally China and now, is leading a campaign fronted by its foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council next month.

Back home in Pakistan, there have been a barrage of predictions and warnings from government leaders that have directly predicted war between the two neighbours or alluded to the possibility. Pakistan Railway Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad rant that a full-fledged war will be fought between the two countries in October or November this year, an Indian official said, was part of this campaign.

It was Prime Minister Imran Khan, who had taken the lead shortly after India effectively abrogated Article 370 that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Imran Khan, who had initially claimed that India was going to carry out some action, in his words “more sinister” than the Balakot strikes, upgraded the threat to a possible nuclear confrontation when he gave an interview to the New York Times a week ago. In his televised address to the nation on Kashmir, he repeated the point.

The Ghaznavi, which was launched past midnight, is a short range missile.

It was launched from the Sonmiani flight test range in Balochistan and tracked at Nooribad and Goth Piaro in Sindh by National Development Complex (NDC) ground control station, located at a 220 kilometre distance from the range. NDC is Pakistan’s missile developer headquartered in Fatehjang, Punjab (Pakistan).

Both Nooribad and Goth Piaro are near the port city of Karachi and the Sonmiani rocket launch facility is operated by Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission and also used by Pakistan atomic energy commission.

Islamabad also has the Ghauri and Shaheen series of medium range ballistic missiles in its inventory with 2,750 kilometre being the longest range of the Shaheen III, and battlefield range missiles in its arsenal.

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    Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011, Hachette) and Himalayan Face-off: Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014, Hachette). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel.

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