Agni V missiles on display at the Republic Day parade in Delhi
INDIA wheeled out a new long-range nuclear missile that can hit anywhere in China and warned rival Pakistan not to take its friendship “for granted” as it celebrated its Republic Day with a big parade on Saturday (January 26).
India successfully tested last April the Agni V missile, which has a range of 5,000 km and can strike across the Chinese mainland and even hit targets as far away as Europe.
The first appearance in the annual parade of the Agni V - seen as marking a significant upgrade of India’s nuclear deterrent - came along with the display of other military hardware acquired as part of a massive modernisation drive costing tens of billions of dollars.
The parade along New Delhi’s ceremonial Rajpath, or King’s Avenue, also included floats marking India’s rich diversity and a tableau marking 100 years of Indian cinema wrapped in reels of film and embossed with movie names.
Large areas of the capital were sealed off for the celebrations - a traditional show of patriotic fervour - where Bhutan’s king Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck was the chief guest.
India’s shorter-range Agni I and II were developed with rival Pakistan in mind, while later versions reflect India's focus on China as well. India and China have prickly ties and a legacy of mistrust stemming from a brief border war in 1962.
On the eve of Republic Day, marking proclamation of India's constitution, President Pranab Mukherjee told Pakistan in his annual nationwide televised address that New Delhi's hand of friendship should “not be taken for granted”.
His speech, aired again on Saturday, came amid a ceasefire which took hold last week in disputed Kashmir after the nations agreed to halt cross-border firing that has threatened to unravel a fragile peace process.”
We believe in peace on the border and are always ready to offer a hand in the hope of friendship but this hand should not be taken for granted,” he said.
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