01 June 2004

Patil fails Indo-Pak missile test

1 June 2004
The Times of India

Patil fails Indo-Pak missile test


NEW DELHI: Foreign secretary Shashank's sage counsel on Pakistan (and presumably India) avoiding controversies through the media came a day too late for Union home minister Shivraj Patil, who, on Sunday, deviated from the official policy to condemn Pakistan's testing of the Ghauri missile as "escalating the arms race".

Patil was obviously not familiar with the Indian government's long-standing policy of not criticising Islamabad for testing its missiles.

Senior officials in South Block are chafing at his reference to an "arms race" since that is precisely the phrase the US , Japan and others use to criticise India each time it tests its ballistic missiles.

Officials also said that Pakistan had, in fact, given advanced notice to India of Saturday's missile test.

In April 1999, Jaswant Singh, who was EAM then, reacted to the testing of a Ghauri missile by saying, "There is no arms race, there is no danger."

In October 2002, after Pakistan tested Shaheen-I, Yashwant Sinha said, "They are a sovereign country, they have tested their missiles, good luck to them".

After the May 25, 2002 Ghauri test, Nirupama Rao, who was MEA spokesperson at the time, said, "We do not take it seriously... we are not perturbed. It is part of the stocks, clandestinely procured by Pakistan , and aimed at addressing a domestic audience. Vajpayee also said, "We don't take the test-firing of missiles by Pakistan seriously".

The US , which does not see the development of new weapons as contributing to any arms race, regularly accuses India and Pakistan of indulging in an arms race whenever they test missiles.

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