Indian and Pakistani leaders traded tough words over the weekend, their traditional hostility heightened by nuclear tension since India carried out five nuclear tests.

Defiant even after a series of international sanctions and aid suspensions due to the tests, India's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Jan-ata Party, the main party in the governing coalition, said the tests were a necessary act of defense and should have been carried out much earlier.Across the border in Islamabad, Pakistani Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan said Islamabad's newly acquired long-range Ghauri missiles were capable of devastating India and that its nuclear expertise was just as sophisticated as India's. Pakistan has threatened to respond in kind to India's tests but has yet to do so.

"I can assure the Indian leadership that India will not be able to absorb the strike of Ghauri," Khan was quoted as saying by Press Trust of India news agency on Sunday. "India has very large towns, and any strike on them will be remembered for centuries."

In New Delhi, BJP president Kushabhau Thakre told the Associated Press that India had to establish its nuclear capability because "people were putting up obstacles for our security."

Though Thakre did not elaborate, Indian leaders have in the past accused the West of unfairly denying India technical expertise and equipment because it refused to renounce nuclear weapons.

"The bluff of the international blackmailers should have been called much earlier," said Thakre.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars in the last 50 years, two of them over the Himalayan territory of Kashmir that is now divided between them.

There have been several anti-government demonstrations in Baluchistan since reports surfaced last week that Pakistan was preparing a site for nuclear tests in the Chagai region of the province, near the border with Iran.