The head of Pakistan's Joint Chiefs of Staff yesterday called his nation’s nuclear deterrent a necessity and not an option, Dawn reported (see GSN, May 10).
"We are shouldering our [nuclear] responsibility with utmost vigilance and confidence,” the Pakistani newspaper quoted Gen. Tariq Majid as saying. “We have put in place a very robust regime that includes multilayered mechanisms and processes to secure our strategic assets, and have provided maximum transparency on our practices."
"We, therefore, consider security to be a nonissue, and strongly suggest that it is time to move beyond this issue. The world must accept our nuclear reality, and stop unwarranted insinuations to create alarms and deny us the related benefits. We have reassured the international community on this issue over and over again and our track record since the time our nuclear program was made overt has been unblemished," Majid said.
Although Pakistan has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, it is a responsible nuclear power that has backed nuclear nonproliferation efforts, Majid contended. Islamabad has maintained a realistic stance on nuclear disarmament initiatives, he said.
"We, however, demand our rightful place as a nuclear weapon state and reject discriminatory policies," the official said.
Majid argued that a proposed fissile material cutoff treaty would target Pakistan specifically. Islamabad has refused to allow talks on such a pact to proceed at the International Conference on Disarmament (see GSN, June 7).
“Countries of the world need to be sensitive to our security concerns rather than attempting in vain to browbeat us or riding roughshod over our concerns,” he said (Iftikhar Khan, Dawn, June 18).
Meanwhile, India and Pakistan were set to hold numerous diplomatic meetings in Islamabad next week, the Hindustan Times reported. Foreign secretaries from both nations would hold initial talks on June 24 ahead of a meeting next month between their respective foreign ministers, S.M. Krishna and Shah Mahmood Qureshi (see GSN, May 11).
After Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao visits the Islamic nation’s capital, Indian Home Secretary G.K. Pillai would arrive in the city to attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation meeting with diplomatic colleagues.
Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram, also expected to attend the conference, would meet with his Pakistani counterparts on June 26 (Naveen Kapoor, Hindustan Times/Sify.com, June 18).