ISLAMABAD: Following a strong protest by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Acting Foreign Secretary Jauhar Saleem Saturday called US Ambassador Donald Blome to deliver a demarche on US President Joe Biden's recent remarks on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.
“Pakistan’s disappointment and concern were conveyed to the US envoy on the unwarranted remarks, which were not based on ground reality or facts,” the statement released by the Foreign Office read.
At a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reception on Thursday, Biden said Pakistan may be “one of the most dangerous nations in the world” as the country has “nuclear weapons without any cohesion”.
Taking notice of these remarks, the Foreign Office said that it was made clear [to the US envoy] that Pakistan was a responsible nuclear state and its impeccable stewardship of the nuclear programme and adherence to global standards, and international best practices was well-acknowledged, including by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency).
“The real threat to international peace and security was posed by violation of global norms by some states, repeated nuclear security incidents without any accountability, and arms race between leading nuclear weapon states and introduction of new security constructs that disturb the regional balance,” the statement read.
'Misleading, factually incorrect'
Rejecting the remarks, PM Shahbaz termed them as “factually incorrect and misleading”. The premier added that over the past decades, Pakistan has proven to be the “most responsible nuclear state”, wherein its nuclear programme is managed through a “technically sound and foolproof command and control system”.
The statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office stated that Pakistan has also consistently demonstrated responsible stewardship of its nuclear-weapons capability, marked by a very strong commitment to global standards, including those of the IAEA on non-proliferation, safety, and security.
“The real threat to international peace and security is posed by ultra-nationalism, violation of human rights in regions that are struggling against illegal occupation, violation of global norms by some states, repeated nuclear security incidents and arms race among leading nuclear weapon states and introduction of new security constructs that disturb the regional balance,” PM Shahbaz said.
He further added that Pakistan and the US have a long history of friendly and mutually beneficial relationships.
“At a time, when the world is confronted by huge global challenges, it is critically important that genuine and durable efforts are made to recognise the real potential of the Pakistan-US relationship while avoiding unnecessary comments. It is our sincere desire to cooperate with the US to promote regional peace and security,” the premier was quoted as saying.
Earlier in his press conference, FM Bilawal had revealed the government's plan to summon the US ambassador and hand him a demarche over Biden’s statement.
The foreign minister said: “We know how to safeguard our nuclear arsenal and they meet each and every international standard in accordance with the IAEA as far as security and safety are concerned."
“Pakistan is adamant about ensuring its integrity and safety. If questions are to be raised then they should be over Indian nuclear weapons," the foreign minister said while calling out the Biden administration's dual standards.
FM Bilawal said he had discussed President Biden's statement with PM Shahbaz in detail and hoped this incident would not affect Pakistan-US relations negatively.
“This is not only irresponsible and unsafe but raises serious concerns about the safety of nuclear-capable countries. Biden's remarks came as a surprise. I believe such misunderstandings are a result of a lack of engagement,” the foreign minister said.
"We will make sure our engagements with the US continue in the right direction," Bilawal said.
On the sensitivity of Biden's remarks, Bilawal, however, added it was not an official function and it wasn’t an address to the parliament or an interview.
“It was a fundraiser. It was an informal conversation in which this sentence was used so it should be [looked at] in this manner, I think we will look at this statement in this way,” he said.
However, he warned that at the same time the nation should avoid churning out conspiracy theories.
US President Biden had said Pakistan may be “one of the most dangerous nations in the world” as the country has “nuclear weapons without any cohesion”.
The US president made the comments while addressing a Democratic congressional campaign committee reception on Thursday.
“And what I think is maybe one of the most dangerous nations in the world: Pakistan. Nuclear weapons without any cohesion,” Biden was quoted as saying in a transcript of the address, published on the White House’s website.
Biden’s remarks were made with regard to the changing geopolitical situation globally, as he highlighted that the world was changing rapidly, and countries were rethinking their alliances.
“And the truth of the matter is — I genuinely believe this — that the world is looking to us. Not a joke. Even our enemies are looking to us to figure out how we figure this out, what we do,” he added.
In response to the remarks, PTI Chairman Imran Khan held the incumbent rulers responsible, saying it shows the total failure of the "imported government’s" foreign policy.
Terming the US president’s comments as an “unwarranted conclusion” of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, the former premier asked about the information Biden got to make such a statement on the country’s capability, and added: “….having been PM, I know we have one of the most secure nuclear command & control systems”.
“Unlike the US which has been involved in wars across the world, when has Pakistan shown aggression esp post-nuclearisation?” he further asked. “Is this the ‘reset’?”
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