Pakistan tests ballistic missile amid tensions with India

In this handout photograph released by Pakistan's Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) on January 24, 2017, an Ababeel surface-to-surface ballistic missile launches from an undisclosed location in Pakistan. (Photo courtesy: ISPR/File)
Updated 18 November 2019

Pakistan tests ballistic missile amid tensions with India

  • Shaheen-I is capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads
  • Troops commended for handling the potent weapon system and ensuring “minimum deterrence“

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday conducted a “successful” training launch of the Shaheen-I, a surface-to-surface ballistic missile that is capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads up to a range of 650 kilometers, a statement released by the army’s media wing, the ISPR said.

“The launch was conducted as part of a training exercise which was aimed at testing the operational readiness of the Army Strategic Forces Command. Shaheen-I missile is capable of delivering all types of warheads up to a range of 650 kilometers,” it added.

Director General Strategic Plans Division, Commander Army Strategic Forces Command, and other senior officials, including scientists and engineers, oversaw the launch on Monday wherein troops displayed a high standard of proficiency in “handling and operating the potent weapon system, ensuring Pakistan’s credible minimum deterrence.”

It comes amid heightened tensions between Pakistan and India after New Delhi’s decision to revoke the special autonomous status of the disputed territory of Kashmir on August 5. 

Both India and Pakistan have fought three wars over the Kashmir region since 1947 when the two got independence from British rule.


Pakistan interior minister orders ‘strict’ action against spread of COVID-19 'fake news'

Updated 34 min 55 sec ago

Pakistan interior minister orders ‘strict’ action against spread of COVID-19 'fake news'

  • Says all available resources would be used to identify people who spread misinformation
  • Rights activists fear new laws to curb coronavirus fake news could be used to clamp down on freedom of speech

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s minister for interior, Ijaz Ahmad Shah, on Thursday directed authorities to take “strict and immediate” action against those involved in spreading coronavirus misinformation, a week after the government announced plans to introduce new laws to curb COVID-19 “fake news” on social media.
Last week, the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), a top federal body set up to oversee the government’s coronavirus mitigation efforts, set up a committee under the chairmanship of the interior minister to prepare a legal framework to help the government deal with coronavirus-related “fake news” on social media platforms.
“The Federal Minister for Interior, Ijaz Ahmad Shah directed the Director Cyber Wing, FIA to closely monitor and hold the responsible ones accountable for their actions,” the Ministry of Interior said in a statement released after Shah presided over a meeting on formulating a “COVID-19 Disinformation Prevention Mechanism.”
“He reinforced the point that strict and immediate action should be taken against these people. The Minister further said that people who are involved in such actions are not pro-country or its people.”
Shah said the primary purpose of the new committee was to ensure that “correct and credible information” was disseminated, adding that all available resources would be used to identify people who spread disinformation.
He also directed the head of Pakistan’s electronic media regulator not to allow “fake news” to run on TV channels.
Islamabad has previously struggled to regulate online content mostly by blocking or asking social media companies to remove blasphemous material and other posts that violate the country’s religious and cultural norms and laws, or hurt national security interests.
In February, the government approved, and then rolled back, new rules to regulate cyberspace after opponents said they could be used to stifle dissent. Social media companies have also largely shunned obliging to help law enforcement agencies access data and remove online content deemed unlawful.
Rights activists and free media campaigners fear the government’s new coronavirus “fake news” mechanism could be used to clamp down on freedom of speech.
“This shady mechanism is going to have serious implications for the already squeezed freedom of press and expression in Pakistan,” Haroon Baloch, researcher and program manager at Digital Rights at Bytes for All, told Arab News.
Baloch said disinformation on social media was a challenge but not a crime, unless it turned into “deep-fake” news that harmed individuals and groups.
“The government must ensure transparency in the so-called mechanism,” he said, “along with ensuring an oversight of civil society and free speech campaigners to prevent abuse.”