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Pak to add 24 nuclear-capable missiles to its arsenal

Islamabad: Pakistan plans to add 24 nuclear-capable, short-range missiles capable of hitting all major Indian cities to its arsenal this year, reflecting a urge in the security establishment to seek "strategic parity in the region," according to a media report on Monday.

This will be the highest number of missiles Pakistan has ever produced in a year if the government achieves the target, The Express Tribune newspaper quoted its sources as saying.

The air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles will be able to hit targets at a distance between 700 km and 1,000 km, thus putting nearly all major Indian cities within their range, the report claimed.

The plan is in line with Pakistan`s official policy of having what is rhetorically called "maintaining a minimum deterrence", especially against India, the daily quoted sources as saying.

The Strategic Plans Division (SPD) ? the body that oversees Pakistan`s nuclear arsenal ? is supervising the production of the new missiles.

The SPD works under the National Command Authority, which is nominally headed by the Prime Minister and has the three service chiefs as its members.

At a recent meeting of the NCA, the SPD briefed authorities about its plan envisaging the production of the highest number of missiles in a year.

The move comes on the heels of reports earlier in the year that Pakistan is rapidly adding to its nuclear arsenal and the number of its atomic warheads might have surpassed that of France.

Officials in Islamabad denied those reports but insiders said Pakistan has been "watching closely with concern" India`s increasing nuclear cooperation with the US and France.

"That is the benchmark?if we see something happening in India on this front, naturally we react and we have to," said an unnamed official.

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