On October 4, Pakistan tested its Hatf-4 (Shaheen-1) surface-to-surface missile, which can carry a 500-kilogram payload 750 kilometers, followed by a second Haft-4 test October 8. The last time Pakistan tested a ballistic missile was in May 2002, when it tested three nuclear-capable missiles. (See ACT, June 2002.)
Hours after the October 4 test, India tested an Akash surface-to-air missile with a range of 25 kilometers. Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha said that India would not respond to Pakistan’s second test, Agence France Presse reported October 8.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said October 4 that Washington was “disappointed” by both countries’ tests because they could contribute to a “destabilizing nuclear and missile arms race.”
India and Pakistan each accused the other of having strategic and political motivations while claiming that its own tests were driven by other considerations. Pakistan said it conducted its tests for technical reasons, a Foreign Office spokesman said in an October 7 press conference, while Pakistani Information Minister Nisar Memon accused India of engaging in an arms race, according to Agence France Presse October 4.
Indian Defense Ministry spokesman P. K. Bandhopadhyay stated that India was testing “different parameters of the missile,” the Associated Press reported October 4. Another government spokesperson dismissed Pakistan’s tests as politically motivated, saying they were “targeted at the forthcoming general elections” in an October 4 statement.
India held elections in its portion of Kashmir—a territory India and Pakistan have repeatedly fought over—in September and October to elect a new regional state assembly. Pakistan held national parliamentary elections October 10 for the first time since President Pervez Musharraf took power three years ago.
In a potentially positive sign for the region, India announced October 16 that it would withdraw some troops from the international border with Pakistan, and Pakistan followed with a similar announcement the next day. Neither country, however, announced plans to reduce the number of forces stationed along the Line of Control that divides Kashmir between the two countries.