India working to nuclearise Indian Ocean: Sartaj

WEB DESK: The Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Thursday warned that India is pursuing conventional, nuclear and missile development programmes which can lead to nuclearization of the Indian Ocean and disturb the balance of power in the region.

In a policy statement in Senate on the orders of chairman Senate over India’s testing of a ballistic missile defense system, he said that apart from this air defence system, India has also recently conducted tests of nuclear capable, submarine based K4 Ballistic Missiles.

“Simultaneously large nuclear powered submarines are being built to carry these nuclear armed missile as a part of its second strike nuclear capability,” he added.

Aziz said that Pakistan has serious concerns over India’s recent missile tests and will take all necessary measures to augment its defence capabilities.

“These two developments are part of the massive conventional nuclear and missile development programmes being pursued by India, which are now leading to nuclearisation of the Indian Ocean,” he added.

The adviser said the development of a ballistic missile defense system and nuclear-powered submarines by India will upset the strategic balance in South Asia and affect the maritime security of all the 32 littoral states around the Indian Ocean.

Raising questions over the effectiveness of these missile defence systems, he said that the development of Anti-Ballistic Missile system (ABMs) may give India a false sense of security, leading to unexpected complications.

“We are not oblivious to our defence needs and will have to upgrade our defensive capabilities through suitable technologies without entering into an arms race,” he said.

He said that Pakistan is also considering moving a resolution in the next session of the UN General Assembly in September to declare the Indian Ocean a “nuclear free zone” and will approach all the 32 littoral states that straddle the Indian Ocean to co-sponsor this resolution.

He said that one specific proposal under consideration is to move a resolution in the next session of the General Assembly in September 2016 to declare the Indian Ocean a ‘nuclear free zone’.

“We are also taking up this issue with all the major powers bilaterally and through multilateral forums,” he said.

Aziz said that their efforts for peace and friendship must not be interpreted as a sign of weakness. “Pakistan is fully prepared to defend its people and its borders,” he maintained.

He also declared that such actions by India are also contrary to the policy of a peaceful and friendly neighbourhood, which the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has repeatedly espoused.

He said that Pakistan had offered discussions on an ABM Free Zone in South Asia as part of nuclear confidence building measures, adding Indian has not so far responded favourably.

“Despite limitation of resources, Pakistan has developed a robust nuclear deterrence, which is constantly updated”, he added. Sartaj Aziz said that Pakistan has planned to highlight the dangerous implication of India’s plans to nuclearize the Indian Ocean in all relevant international forums. – Business Recorder