Pakistan Conducts Second Missile Test

Pakistan followed one widely criticized missile test with another launch Sunday as the international community struggled to contain the country's rising tensions with neighboring India.

Officials said the military conducted the first-ever test of a new short-range missile, the Hatf-III or Ghaznavi. With a range of 176 miles, the missile could reach the border regions of India, where hundreds of thousands of soldiers face Pakistani troops in a standoff.

Sunday's launch, which had been expected, came despite international pleas for both sides to ease hostilities and followed what Pakistan said was the successful test-firing Saturday of a Ghauri missile with a range of 900 miles, far enough to reach deep into India.

In St. Petersburg, Russia, President Bush said Saturday that the United States had expressed "our strong reservations" about the missile tests to the government of Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

"Obviously, we hope that there is restraint in the area, that that not be viewed as provocation," Bush said after visiting a historic synagogue in the hometown of his host, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Both the Ghauri and Ghaznavi missiles are capable of carrying conventional and nuclear warheads; fear of a major conflict between India and Pakistan is heightened because both have developed nuclear weapons since their last war, in 1971.

The Ghaznavi missile is "indigenously developed and the test firing was the culmination of years of hard work, dedication and professional excellence of Pakistani scientists and engineers," Pakistan's army said in a statement Sunday.

Pakistan says it is conducting a series of missile tests that will end Tuesday and asserts that the tests have nothing to do with the tension with India. India says it was informed of plans for the tests and is not concerned about them.

Still, the tests have added to the tension between India and Pakistan, which are both on war footing. Shelling across the border in disputed Kashmir has increased dramatically and dozens of villagers in both India and Pakistan have been killed.

Indian police said Sunday that five civilians were killed and four others wounded on the Indian side of the frontier overnight. Indian and Pakistani soldiers have been exchanging small arms fire for more than two weeks, but there was a lull for two days before shelling flared Saturday.

Putin said Saturday said he would invite Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to hold a one-on-one meeting on the sidelines of a meeting of Asian leaders in Kazakhstan early next month.

On Sunday, Vajpayee said India would not tolerate terrorist attacks against its citizens indefinitely.

He also regretted not ordering action against Pakistan-based militant groups soon after a Dec. 13 terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament last year that left nine staffers and the five terrorists dead.

India blamed the attack on Pakistan's intelligence agency and Islamic guerrillas based there, and responded by deploying hundreds of thousands of soldiers along the border and conducting its own missile tests.

"India should have taken action against cross-border terrorism soon after the attack on the Parliament," Vajpayee said during a speech in Manali, a hill resort 250 miles north of New Delhi.

Pakistan says it is ready to talk. India says it first wants Pakistan to end cross-border incursions by Islamic militants waging an insurgency in Indian-ruled Kashmir, demanding independence for Hindu-majority India's only mostly Muslim state or a union with Islamic Pakistan.

On Saturday, Bush urged Musharraf — a key ally in the war on terrorism because of Pakistan's past ties with the hard-line Muslim Taliban militia in neighboring Afghanistan — to make good on a promise he made in January to curb Islamic militants.

"It is very important for President Musharraf to ... do what he said he's going to do ... on terror, and that is stop the incursions across the line," Bush said.

Kashmir, a Himalayan province divided between Pakistan and India, has been the flashpoint of two wars between the uneasy neighbors, in 1948 and in 1965. The 1971 war was over Bangladesh, then called East Pakistan.

Relations between the neighbors have been troubled since independence from Britain in 1947, but tensions soared after the December attack on India's Parliament.

Musharraf made his pledge and outlawed five militant Islamic groups in January, but India says attacks by Pakistan-based guerrillas have continued and blamed them for an assault on an Indian army camp that killed 34 people, most of them wives and children of soldiers.

Pakistan says its support for the insurgents fighting in the Indian-ruled section of Kashmir — where tens of thousands of civilians, soldiers and rebels have been killed since 1989 — is moral and diplomatic, but denies India's claim that it funds and trains them.