Pakistan military says it test-fired ballistic missile Shaheen-II

Test conducted as early results from Indian election put Prime Minister Modi in line for re-election.

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    The Shaheen-II missile can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads to a range of up to 1,500km, the military said [ISPR via Reuters]
    The Shaheen-II missile can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads to a range of up to 1,500km, the military said [ISPR via Reuters]

    Islamabad, Pakistan - Pakistan's military has said it successfully conducted a test of its surface-to-surface ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, a day after the country's foreign minister reiterated an offer to India to resume peace talks.

    The Shaheen-II missile, test-fired on Thursday, can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads to a range of up to 1,500km, the military said.

    "The training launch was aimed at ensuring operational readiness of Army Strategic Forces Command," said a military statement released on Thursday.

    The test comes as tensions between India and Pakistan remain high after a military standoff earlier this year that saw both countries launch air attacks on each other's territory, in which an Indian fighter jet was shot down in an aerial dogfight. 

    India launched its attack on Pakistani soil on February 26, days after a deadly attack in Pulwama in Indian-administered Kashmir earlier that month that Indian authorities blamed on Pakistan.

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    India claimed to have destroyed a training camp run by armed group Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), but an Al Jazeera visit to the site revealed little evidence to support the claim.

    At least four Indian bombs appeared to land close to a JeM-run school, wounding one man.

    Pakistan denied any involvement in the Pulwama suicide bombing, and launched retaliatory attacks on February 27, targeting unpopulated areas as a show of force.

    Thursday's test was conducted to reiterate Pakistan's nuclear deterrence posture, military spokesperson Asif Ghafoor said in a statement.

    "Shaheen-II fully meets [Pakistan's] strat[egic] needs towards maintenance of desired deterrence stability in the region," he tweeted, alongside a video of the test.

    The test was conducted as votes from the Indian general elections were being counted. Exit polls and partial results showed incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) heading towards another win.

    Air raids on Pakistan formed a large part of Modi's re-election campaign, alongside his platform of promising economic growth and promoting Hindu nationalism.

    On Wednesday, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi briefly met his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital.

    It was the highest-level interaction between the two countries since February's conflict when almost all bilateral dialogue was suspended by India.

    "I made it clear to her that we want to amicably resolve all issues," Qureshi said in a statement released after the meeting.

    The Indian foreign ministry did not comment on the meeting.

    Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera's digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News