Pakistan Missile Test In Arabian Sea Appears To Send Message To India

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ISLAMABAD — Pakistan's navy successfully test-fired a series of missiles and torpedoes Friday in what it called a message to "nefarious" forces – an apparent reference to longtime rival India.

While the two nuclear-armed neighbors have taken slow steps toward restarting peace talks, they also have a history of using weapons tests as a form of diplomatic saber-rattling.

The missiles were launched from aircraft, submarines and ships in the Arabian Sea. It was not immediately clear if the weapons were capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Both countries regularly test their missile systems, and usually notify each other ahead of such launches in keeping with a diplomatic agreement.

But Friday's launches were followed by a navy statement saying the tests showed the navy's commitment to "defending the motherland." It added: "This strike capability would also send a message of deterrence to anyone harboring nefarious designs against Pakistan."

Such statements have been rare in recent years, as the two nations have struggled to keep their peace process limping along. Late last month, India and Pakistan held their first official talks since the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, which India blamed on the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

It was not clear whether the statement was an intentional attempt to stir the diplomatic waters, but similar wording has been used in the past to send warnings to New Delhi.

Other Pakistani officials refused to expand on the navy statement.

Indian officials could not immediately be reached for reaction. However, Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said at a Friday speech in New Delhi that Pakistan has been a "very difficult neighbor" since independence from Britain in from 1947.

He added, though, that "war is not an option."

"We must talk when we can, at other times we have to simply be vigilant and alert," Chidambaram said.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since they gained independence.

The two countries began talks aimed at resolving their differences over the Himalayan region of Kashmir and other disputes in 2004. India put the peace process on hold soon after the Mumbai attacks.

Pakistan is trying seven men on charges they planned and carried out the Mumbai attacks, which left 166 people dead, but the militant network blamed for the assault continues to operate relatively freely in Pakistan.

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