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Pakistan rejects claim it modified missiles

  • Story Highlights
  • Pakistan rejects NYT report it illegally modified U.S.-supplied anti-ship missiles
  • Article claims modifications make missiles capable of striking land-based targets
  • Report says modified missiles would pose a threat to historical rival, India
  • Report says U.S. detected suspicious missile test in April, made unpublicized protest
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan on Sunday rejected a report in The New York Times that said it illegally modified U.S.-supplied anti-ship missiles to make them capable of striking land-based targets.

Such a modification would pose a threat to Pakistan's neighbor and historical rival, India, the Times story said.

Pakistan's foreign ministry said it "categorically rejected" the accusation.

Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, also called the accusations incorrect and "based on wrong intelligence."

"We will make sure that the U.S. understands the correct picture and we will fight back periodic efforts to falsely blame Pakistan, which remains a critical U.S. ally in fighting terrorism," Haqqani told the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan on Sunday.

"Instead of false accusations, U.S. media should help Pakistan secure the help it needs to fight our common enemy ... terrorism," he added.

The Times report, which appeared Saturday, quoted unnamed senior administration and congressional officials as saying that they suspect Pakistan altered the Harpoon anti-ship missiles that the United States sold to the south Asian country in the 1980s.

American intelligence agencies apparently detected a suspicious -- and unannounced -- missile test by Pakistan in April, and brought the charge about the modification to top Pakistani officials in June in an unpublicized protest, the newspaper said.

Such an addition to Pakistan's arsenal would give its navy the ability to strike targets in India from the sea -- and would stoke tensions between the nations.

The two countries have fought three declared wars against each other, and had several other skirmishes, since their independence in 1947.

The newspaper report comes as U.S. President Barack Obama's administration is asking Congress to approve $7.5 billion in aid to Pakistan over the next five years.

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