Missile Tests Fail to Save Indian Government

  • Share
  • Read Later
Tat. Pakistan on Wednesday test-fired its Ghauri medium range missile, in response to India's Sunday test of its Agni II. Both missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads deep into the other's territory, but India and Pakistan insist they're not engaged in an arms race. Tension between the two countries -- which have fought three wars in five decades -- boiled over last year during rival nuclear tests, but had been improving in recent months with increased diplomatic and cultural ties. Pakistan even notified India ahead of time of the Ghauri test-firing, in line with an agreement between New Delhi and Islamabad.

Analysts believe the timing of India's test may have been based on domestic political concerns -- shoring up the fragile coalition of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Last year's nuclear tests rallied Indians across the political spectrum behind Vajpayee's government and secured its tenure despite a narrow parliamentary majority. But despite Sunday's test, Vajpayee's government lost its majority on Wednesday after the second largest party in his coalition walked out over corruption charges against its leader. Vajpayee now needs to find a way to recruit the 18 parliamentary votes he needs to stay in power -- and the scary part is that saber-rattling appears to be his political stock-in-trade.