By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) - Pakistan on Thursday conducted "successful" training launch of surface-to-surface ballistic missile Shaheen-II, which is capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads up to a range of 1,500 kilometers (932 miles), the military said.
The training launch having its impact point in the Arabian Sea, was aimed at ensuring operational readiness of the army strategic forces command, Pakistan Army said in a statement.
"Shaheen-II is a highly capable missile which fully meets Pakistan’s strategic needs towards maintenance of desired deterrence stability in the region", the statement added.
President, Dr Arif Alvi, Prime Minister, Imran Khan, and the three Services Chiefs have congratulated the scientists and engineers on successful conduct of the training launch, it added.
The latest missile test follows heightened tensions between the arch rivals -- Pakistan and India -- which are locked in a string of sea and land disputes and have fought three wars and a three-week long skirmish since 1947.
- Nuclear powers
Pakistan and India are among a small handful of countries with nuclear arsenals. India joined the nuclear club long before Pakistan, in 1974, prompting Islamabad to follow suit.
Pakistan silently developed its own nuclear capability in the 1980s, when it was an ally of the U.S. in the first Afghan war against the crumbling Soviet Union.
It did not conduct any nuclear tests until India carried out a series of its own tests in 1999. Only three weeks later, Pakistan conducted six successful tests in the remote Chaghi district near the Afghanistan-Iran border, stoking fears of a nuclear war between the longtime rivals.
According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India currently possesses between 80 and 100 nuclear warheads, while Pakistan holds between 90 and 110.