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ISLAMABAD, Aug 11: Pakistan on Thursday successfully test-fired its first nuclear-capable Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM), Hatf VII, and joined a select group of countries capable of developing the ground-hugging projectiles.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said the missile, Babur, designed and developed by an elite team of scientists and engineers of Pakistan’s strategic organizations, had the capability to carry nuclear and conventional warheads to a range of 500km with pinpoint accuracy.

All design parameters for the flight were validated in Thursday’s test, the ISPR said.

Giving details of the cruise missile, the ISPR said it was a terrain-hugging missile, which had the most advanced and modern navigation and guidance system and a high degree of manoeuvrability. The technology enables the missile to avoid radar detection and penetrate undetected through any hostile defensive system. The missile could be launched from all platforms, including surface ships, submarines and aircraft, it added.

By conducting the successful test, the ISPR said, Pakistan had joined a select group of countries which had the capability to design and develop cruise missiles.

The US, the UK, China, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Russia and India are some of the countries which have cruise missiles in their arsenal, said a source. In his message on the occasion, President Gen Pervez Musharraf said Babur was a major milestone in Pakistan’s quest for strengthening and consolidating the country’s strategic capability.

Congratulating the team of scientists, President Musharraf said the country’s scientists and engineers had once again done the nation proud by mastering a rare technology. The president reiterated Pakistan’s resolve to continue to meet emerging challenges and geo-strategic developments in its neighbourhood. Pakistan’s security, he said, was non-negotiable.

The test-firing of Babur cruise missile coincided with President Musharraf’s 62nd birthday, who was born on August 11, 1943.

Asked if the missile test was intended as a gift for President Musharraf, military spokesperson Maj-Gen Shaukat Sultan said it was a coincident that the missile was tested on the birthday of President Musharraf.

Asked whether any advance notice had been given to the neighbouring countries regarding missile test, Maj-Gen Sultan said under the existing agreement Pakistan had to inform neighbouring countries only about ballistic missile tests and not about the other categories. He said the Babur cruise missile was in the category of missiles which were not covered by the agreement.

“We don’t have to inform neighbouring countries in this case. It is not a ballistic missile and it doesn’t fall under the agreement,” he added.

The Babur missile is an addition to Pakistan’s nuclear and conventional missile weapon systems which include Shaheen-I with a range of 600km; Shaheen-II with a range up to 2,000km; Ghauri-I with 1,500km range; Ghauri-II with 2,300km range; Hatf I-A with a range of 100km; Hatf-II with 180km range and Hatf-III having a range of 290km.