Monday June 24, 2024

No one can raise questions about Pak nukes: Qureshi

He called upon Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to give a policy statement on Pakistan’s nuclear programme

By Our Correspondent
March 20, 2023
An undated image of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar (left) and PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi (right). — Twitter/AFP
An undated image of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar (left) and PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi (right). — Twitter/AFP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Vice-Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Sunday that no one had the right to ask questions about Pakistan’s nuclear assets.

Addressing a news conference here, he called upon Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to give a policy statement on Pakistan’s nuclear programme, as the recent statement by the finance minister in the Senate had triggered speculations.

He wondered why Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who is also a treasury senator and a close relative of the ruling party PML-N, had to give a statement on this count on the floor of the House, while it was not his subject.

He emphasised that a minister could not present his personal view while speaking on the floor of parliament, especially when talking about the country’s nuclear assets. During the three-day special session of the Senate last week, PPP senator and ex-chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani raised certain questions with regard to talks with the IMF and nuclear programme and asked whether the delay in reaching a deal with the donor agency was linked to the nuclear assets. In reply, Ishaq Dar gave a categorical statement on the issue.

He assured the House there would be no compromise on the country’s nuclear and missile programmes. “Let me assure you that nobody is going to compromise on the nuclear or the missile programme of Pakistan… no way,” he added.

Qureshi asked who were they to ask what Pak programme should be like, what should be its nature, and what should be the range of missiles.

He said after Ishaq Dar’s statement, speculations were so intense that a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had to clarify during the weekly briefing that “our nuclear programme is neither on agenda of talks with any country nor any dialogue was going on with any financial institution or any other world organisation”.

Qureshi, who formerly served as the foreign minister, said Pakistan had satisfied the world about the safety of nuclear assets, saying, “Many experts have agreed that our safety system is world class”.

The PTI leader said that it had been Pakistan’s clear position that the country’s programme is defensive in nature; there were or are no aggressive intentions. He said India took the initiative and “we made a programme of a defensive nature, because the neighbouring country disintegrated Pakistan and recently the Indian prime minister addressed the people of Pakistan whose intentions are not hidden from anyone”.

He said that no one would be allowed to discuss the nuclear programme and assets, there is a national consensus on the assets and the military and civil leadership of Pakistan had agreed on it.

Qureshi said PTI Chairman Imran Khan would never allow these assets of Pakistan to be weakened and the people of Pakistan would also not allow it as well.

He said the prime minister should issue a policy statement on the subject “because the incumbent foreign minister is busy in building international relations and now the matter has gone beyond the Foreign Office spokesperson’s ambit”.

If not the prime minister, he contended, then the foreign minister should have come forward immediately. He should have clarified that there was no truth in it, but he was lost in his own world.

The PTI senior leader said that the party has decided to initiate legal action against the Punjab Police, which violated the orders of the Lahore High Court.

About the possibility of dialogue with the present government, Qureshi said in politics, doors should not be closed and the government would have to take an initiative for dialogue.

He alleged that the Constitution and the law were being violated, but the major human rights parties were silent; instability in the country was being created by the sitting government at present.