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November 30, 2012

MAN has always looked heavenwards for answers but on Wednesday night, disconcerted residents of Dadu district in Sindh had more than the normal vexations of life to quiz the higher powers about when large chunks of unidentifiable equipment dropped out of the sky over an area spanning several villages. That no one was hurt and no property damaged can only be termed a miracle, for the pieces were far from small. The biggest fragment weighed some 187 kilograms, while a former nazim of the area described a piece of iron as being five feet long and two feet wide.

Military authorities soon took possession of the remains and Pakistanis were left speculating whether the unidentified equipment was a bird, or a plane. Or, going beyond the Superman terminology, a dismembered satellite perhaps? Or even a missile? The last theory gained currency rapidly. Earlier on the same day, ISPR had reported that the army had successfully test-fired its nuclear-capable Hatf-V Ghauri ballistic missile. Following this line of reasoning, a few wary souls started wondering whether or not the huge amount of public funds spent on missile-system development produce stable results. Fortunately for the future of defence-system development, military authorities issued a statement yesterday saying that the objects constituted the part that separates in the normal course of a rocket launch; the missile reached its destination, so the test had been successful. That will no doubt come as a relief to the nervous, sky-gazing residents of Dadu, and other citizens, too, who may fear finding themselves in the flight path of a missile at any time after this incident. We can only wish that such tests would be conducted in more remote areas and with much more care. Surely working out which regions are populated is no rocket science.