Pakistan on Thursday described the Indian Defence Minister’s statement that “India should not bind itself to a ‘no first use policy’ on nuclear weapons” as a matter of concern for regional countries and also termed it a threat to the global peace and stability.
Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria, while responding to queries during his weekly media briefing, said the Indian Defence Minister’s statement is yet another manifestation of India’s doublespeak.
“Pakistan has long maintained that the ambiguous no-first use declaration is not verifiable and amounts to nothing. It cannot substitute for verifiable arms control and restraint measures as proposed in Pakistan’s standing offer of Strategic Restraint Regime,” he said.
Speaking in the context of India’s bid to enter the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar stated, “India should not bind itself to a ‘no first use policy’ on nuclear weapons.” Parrikar’s statement was described by Indian media as his ‘personal opinion.’
“Such statements from a person no less than defence minister of a country that has repeatedly and constantly heightened tension with her aggressive posturing, should be a matter of concern not just for the countries in this region but it should be seen as a threat to the global peace and stability,” Zakaria said.
In this backdrop, he added, signing of nuclear deals by some countries is a matter of concern as it has only reinforced arrogance and belligerence to the Indian conduct in the region and beyond.
He said Pakistan has time and again cautioned the international community about Indian tendency towards adventurism. “Their atrocities and worst crimes against humanity in Indian occupied Kashmir with impunity and non-stop cease-fire violations on the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary (WB) testify this assertion,” he asserted.
Commenting on the November 11, 2016 inconclusive meeting of the NSG in Vienna, the spokesperson said that at the meeting majority of the members supported a two-step process involving, agreement on objective and non-discriminatory criteria, and consideration of membership applications for non-NPT states.
He said that it was the position that resonated Pakistan’s stance on the issue, vis-à-vis some of member countries’ desire to the contrary.
He maintained that Pakistan has been able to establish itself as a serious candidate for NSG membership as a result of its active diplomacy, adding an increasing number of countries see merit in following a non-discriminatory approach and avoiding any formula tailored to favour a specific country.
“There is an increasing recognition of the fact that the 2008 exemption to India neither benefited the non-proliferation regime nor the objective of strategic stability in South Asia,” he said and also expressed the confidence that the NSG members will keep in mind the immense responsibility they bear in preventing further erosion of the non-proliferation regime and preserving the credibility of the group as a rule-based organisation.
“We have indicated our openness to measures for strengthening the non-proliferation objectives of the NSG. This includes our proposal for a binding bilateral agreement with India on non-testing,” he said, adding, “We are also mindful of the fact that the process can take some time due to complicated technical, political and legal issues that need to be addressed by the NSG.”
To a question about a trilateral meeting between Pakistan, Russia and China on Afghanistan in Moscow next month, he said that a working level meeting of the authorities from the three countries has already taken place.
He said the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan has raised concerns about the spillover effects due to the presence of non-state actors and other elements there. He pointed out that there are several news reports as to how Islamic State is increasing its footprint in Afghanistan.
“Taliban are already operating from there. We are all aware that due to turmoil in Afghanistan for long, space has been created for foreign elements to gain hold there with huge loss to the Afghan people and the neighbourhood,” he added.
On the situation at the LoC and the Working Boundary, he said that India has deliberately escalated tension on the border, describing it as an attempt to divert international attention from the grim situation in the Indian-held Jammu and Kashmir, where the Indian occupation forces have unleashed a reign of terror on the innocent unarmed and defenceless civilians.
He said Pakistan has no desire to escalate this tension. “However, we have been forced to react but with maximum restraint. The word of caution from Pakistan side is to remind India of its responsibilities under bilateral arrangements and international law,” he added.
Asked whether US President-elect Donald Trump has contacted Pakistan, as he has reached out to many countries, the spokesperson expressed his inability to confirm, saying, “I am not aware if we have received any call from the new US administration.”
However, he said the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan have already congratulated Trump on his victory. “We look forward to working with the new US administration closely,” he added.
Responding to a query about Turkish employees of Pak-Turk schools, he said all actions being taken by the Government of Pakistan in the matter are in accordance with national law and consistent with the actions taken against the parent organisation by the government of Turkey.
He said the organisation was registered under the ‘Charities Act’ in the Republic of Turkey and after the organisation was banned in the country of origin, its branches abroad have ceased to exist. He said the government is fully conscious of the importance of continued smooth functioning of these schools in which thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled.
He said that appropriate arrangements are being made to ensure uninterrupted running of these educational institutions, keeping in view the interest of the students as well as the employees.