By Jason Lemon On 10/8/18 at 1:58 PM
Army Strategic Forces Command Lieutenant-General Mian Muhammad Hilal Hussain hailed the test as a successful demonstration of the military’s operational and technical readiness.
“The launch consolidates Pakistan’s nuclear capability which is aimed at peace and stability through a credible deterrence regime,” an official statement from the military said, Pakistan’s The Express Tribune reported. President Dr. Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan also expressed their appreciation for the successful test of the missile system, according to the country’s Dunya television channel.
The demonstration came after regional rival India signed an agreement with Russia on Friday to purchase S-400 air defense system for $5 billion. At the end of last month, New Delhi also canceled peace talks with Islamabad that were slated to take place on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan’s foreign minister, criticized India for the decision, saying that it used incidents that occurred in July to justify canceling negotiations that had been scheduled in September.
“India is reluctant; we will not close our doors,” he said, according to India’s Economic Times newspaper. “Hiding away from issues will not make them disappear. It will not improve the situation in Kashmir.”
“Engagement, no-engagement. Coming, not coming. We desired talks as we believe the sensible way is to meet and talk. They agreed, and then disagreed,” Qureshi continued.
When asked by reporters if there was a possibility of another war between Pakistan and India, Qureshi suggested it wasn’t on the table.
“Who is talking of war? Not us. We want peace, stability, employment and improving lives. You identify where is the reluctance,” he said. “We want peace. It does not mean we cannot defend ourselves against aggression. We can but we do not have an aggressive mindset.”
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry also insisted in late September that Pakistan desires peace with India. “War will not be [a] viable option. Both the countries should resort to negotiation,” he said, according to Pakistan’s The Nation newspaper.
Pakistani military personnel stand beside a Ghauri nuclear-capable missile during a Pakistan Day military parade in Islamabad on March 23, 2017. Army Strategic Forces Command Lieutenant-General Mian Muhammad Hilal Hussain hailed the test as a successful demonstration of the military’s operational and technical readiness. AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
However, in a speech on September 29, India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj pushed back, rejecting the accusation that her country has worked to undermine negotiation. She also accused Pakistan of harboring terrorists.
“Our neighbor’s expertise is not restricted to spawning grounds for terrorism,” Swaraj said, Radio Free Europe reported. “It is also an expert in trying to mask malevolence with verbal duplicity.”
Pakistan and India have maintained a tense relationship for decades, beginning with the partition of British India in 1947. Violent conflicts and all-out war have broken out several times in the preceding decades. A primary point of tension is the disputed Kashmir region between the two nations, with parts of the territory currently administered by India, Pakistan and also China.