Pakistan Says It Tested Nuclear-Capable Missile

Pakistan’s military said it successfully test-fired a cruise missile on Tuesday, part of what analysts say is as part of a regional arms buildup with a focus on India.

Pakistan's Hatf VII cruise missile has a range of 700km (440 miles)

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan’s military said it successfully test-fired a cruise missile on Tuesday, part of what analysts say is as part of a regional arms buildup with a focus on India.

The Hatf -VII cruise missile is also known as Babur, named after Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur, founder of the Mughal empire on the Indian subcontinent in the early 16th century.

In a statement, the Pakistani military described the Hatf -VII as “a low-flying, terrain hugging missile with high maneuverability, pinpoint accuracy and radar avoidance features.”

The missile has a range of about 435 miles.

“It can carry both nuclear and conventional warheads and has stealth capabilities,” the military said in its statement.

The missile launch Tuesday was witnessed by senior army officials and the Pakistani military stressed that the civilian leadership “congratulated the scientists and engineers on their outstanding success.”

The missile comes just days after the government presented its annual budget for the next fiscal year.

Several independent analysts have criticized the 10.2 percent increase in military spending and Imran Khan, a leading opposition politician, on Sunday urged an audit of the defense budget, demanding greater transparency and scrutiny.

Pakistani defense analysts said that the missile tests are geared toward India, with Islamabad keeping in mind New Delhi’s 2004 Cold Start doctrine, which allows Indian troops to launch a limited conventional war against Pakistan without crossing the nuclear threshold.

“The test shows that Pakistan is moving toward a highly survivable triad-based nuclear deterrent,” said Mansoor Ahmed, a defense analyst based in Islamabad. “This system provides Pakistan the capability to strike vital counterforce targets all along the India-Pakistan border and coastline. Pakistanis are improving the delivery means and diversifying their options.”

“The significance is that Pakistan is moving toward a second strike capability vis-à-vis India,” Mr. Ahmed added. “The idea is to survive a first strike by the enemy and hit back.”

He said that targets of the Hatf-VII include Indian military command and control centers, forward strike units, tank and troop concentrations and ammunition depots.

“This is signaling to India that if you are modernizing your weaponry, then we are also not lagging behind. Pakistan is sensitive and responsive to evolving threats. Basically, these missile tests are meant to ensure Pakistan’s minimum deterrence,” Mr. Ahmed said.