Pakistan has successfully conducted a test of an intermediate range ballistic missile, the country’s military has said.
The Hatf-IV Shaheen-1A missile is capable of carrying both nuclear and conventional warheads, a statement from the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) department said on Wednesday.
The missile test was aimed at a target in the Indian Ocean. The ISPR said the new design implemented “improvements in range and technical parameters”, but declined to provide specific details.
Previous versions of the missile are believed to have an approximate range of about 750km. Pakistan’s longest range successfully tested ballistic missile, the Shaheen 2, has a range of 2,000km.
General Khalid Kidwai, the director-general of the Pakistan army’s Strategic Plans Division, witnessed the test, saying “the improved version of Shaheen 1A will further consolidate and strengthen Pakistan’s deterrence abilities”, according to the ISPR statement.
On April 19, India, Pakistan’s neighbour and regional rival, announced that it had successfully launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile, with a range of 5,000km.
India and Pakistan have fought three full-scale wars since they achieved independence from the British Empire in 1947. They conduct missile tests regularly and inform each other in advance.
Al Jazeera’s Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, said that the trading of missile tests came at a time when the often tense relationship between India and Pakistan had begun to thaw.
“It comes at a very interesting time. Over the past few months … this very tense relationship between India and Pakistan has started to thaw a little bit,” he said.
“You have Pakistan offering India ‘Most Favoured Nation’ [trading partner] status.
“As a result, India opened a key border post, allowing goods to flow between India and Pakistan, and of course not very long ago you had Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, travel to New Delhi, where he also met the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.”
Dipankar Banerjee, a retired major-general in the Indian army, currently at the New Delhi-based Institute of Peace and Conflict, said: “Pakistan had informed India two days earlier” of the test, and that “there should be no disquiet [in the region] on [the matter of these tests] at all”.
“As far as India is concerned, and looking at it from Delhi, we are not at all concerned about this development,” he told Al Jazeera.
Pakistan’s last missile test came last month with the launch of the short-range nuclear-capable Abdali.
India and Pakistan have both routinely carried out missile tests since they demonstrated nuclear weapons capability in 1998.
“This is what has been happening over the past few years,” said Talat Masood, a Pakistani defense analyst and retired army general. “The tests by Pakistan and India follow each other to show that their programs are robust.”