‘Discrimination with Pakistan on nuclear issues impacting regional security’

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry Friday said discriminatory approach towards Pakistan on nuclear issues had impacted strategic stability in South Asia.

He was speaking at the launch of “Three Reports under ISSI’s Nuclear Paper Series” organized by Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad.

Aizaz said Pakistan was a responsible nuclear state and a peace-loving nation and was compelled to acquire nuclear weapons after explosions by India.

He said Pakistan offered many proposals including a non-aggression pact to India, which it did not respond favourably.

As a nuclear state, Pakistan always endeavoured to fulfill its international obligations, he stressed.

He pointed that nuclear programme of Pakistan was working under safeguards of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“We have invested heavily on nuclear safety, export control regimes and robust command and control structure.”

He said during the last strategic talks, the United States acknowledged in unambiguous terms, credibility of Pakistan’s nuclear programme.

He said Pakistan should be given membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), adding Pakistan had legitimate uses for fissile material.

Pakistan had been consistently and constructively engaging the international community, members of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and IAEA, Aizaz said adding a criteria based approach for membership of NSG would serve the purpose of strategic stability.

He said Pakistan had not indulged in nuclear arms race and had only acquired minimum credible deterrence.

Pakistan believed that scarce resources should be used for socio economic development, alleviation of poverty and economic growth, he added.

Director General ISSI Ambassador Masood Khan said Pakistan had demonstrated utmost restraint in its nuclear programme, which was India specific.

He reminded that Pakistan had been discriminated with all sorts of sanctions during development of its nuclear programme.

“The discrimination must come to an end and double standards should not be applied.”

He said Pakistan should continue to pursue dialogue for civil nuclear deal with the United States, adding Pakistan was a legitimate and normal nuclear power and had legitimate needs for nuclear energy.

Director General Arms Control and Disarmament Affairs Khalid Banuri said dispute resolution, dialogue and equal security would enhance peace in South Asia.

Pakistan was not the first to acquire nuclear weapons and it desired regional peace, security and stability, he added.

“Our nuclear capability is meant to maintain regional security and avoid war by maintaining credible and minimum nuclear deterrence.”

For India, nuclear weapons were for prestige while for Pakistan the purpose was to stop external aggression, Banuri said adding only necessary national resources were devoted for nuclear programme.

Banuri said India was increasingly getting belligerent and its relations with neighbours had deteriorated.

Dr Rizwana Abbasi, Dr Zafar Khan, Malik Qasim Mustafa, Ghazala Yameen Jalil, Tahir Mahmood Azad and Dr Naeem Salik presented their papers on nuclear issues.