ISLAMABAD – Pakistan rejected accusations its army illegally modified American-made missiles to increase its land-strike capability, denying Sunday that it reconfigured anti-ship weapons in a way that could target India.
The denial was in response to a news report that the Obama administration made a diplomatic protest to Pakistan's prime minister over the alleged alterations to the anti-ship missiles Islamabad bought in the 1980s.
Nuclear-armed Pakistan is a key U.S. ally in fighting the Taliban and hunting down al-Qaida terrorist leaders along its northwestern border with Afghanistan. However, it's aggressive weapons development and antagonistic relations with giant neighbor India, also a nuclear power, have raised concerns of an arms race.
A statement from Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said Sunday that it "categorically rejected" the article in The New York Times saying that Harpoon anti-ship missiles had been modified and that they could pose a potential threat to giant rival India.
The newspaper cited senior Obama administration and congressional officials as saying the allegation first surfaced in June in an unpublicized diplomatic protest to Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S., also denied the report.
"The accusations are incorrect and based on wrong intelligence," Haqqani said in a report carried by the state-run news agency, Associated Press of Pakistan.
The Harpoon missiles were sold to Pakistan by the Reagan administration decades ago as defensive weapons.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since they were born in the bloody partition of the South Asian subcontinent at independence from Britain in 1947.