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May 4, 2016

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Pakistan to follow suit if India increases military might, says Sartaj

Pakistan to follow suit if India increases military might, says Sartaj

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Tuesday expressed concern over India’s growing military power and said if it was not checked, Pakistan would be forced to increase its strategic power.

The adviser said Pakistan would acquire the F-16 aircraft from other countries if funds were not made available from the United States. Talking to the media after inaugurating a seminar on Pakistan’s non-proliferation efforts and strategic export control system, Sartaj said Pakistan wanted the F-16 fighter jets from the US to help its counter-terrorism efforts.

“Pakistan will buy F-16s from some other country if funding (from the US) is not arranged,” he said. Sartaj said though the United States had stopped funding for the fighter jets yet it was still providing 265 million dollars annually to Pakistan.

The statement by the adviser comes in the wake of remarks of the US State Department Spokesperson John Kirby who said Pakistan should fund the whole purchase of F-16 jet fighters on its own. “Given Congressional objections we have told the Pakistanis that they should put forward national funds for that purpose,” the spokesperson told reporters during the weekly press briefing.

Pakistan had reached an understanding with the US for the purchase of eight F-16 aircraft. The adviser said an Afghan Taliban delegation from Doha was in Islamabad. Such contacts, he added, were maintained by all members of the Quadrilateral Coordination group comprising the US, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan with the objective of revival of peace process in Afghanistan.

Sartaj said the government had rejected the American pressure on handing over of Shakeel Afridi, who helped the United States trace Osama bin Laden. “For the US he is a hero but for Pakistan he is a criminal,” he said and added that Afridi’s case was under review by a tribunal as he was also suspected of links with terrorist organisations.

Earlier, Sartaj in his address at the seminar at the Institute of Strategic Studies, said Pakistan was strongly committed to the objective of nuclear security. “Our nuclear security paradigm that evolved over the years is effective and responsive against the entire range of possible threats,” he said.

He said nuclear security regime in Pakistan was dynamic and regularly reviewed and updated. Sartaj said in line with the commitment made during the 2014 NSS, Pakistan had ratified the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM).

“This was reaffirmation of Pakistan’s confidence in its national nuclear security regime which was consistent with the contemporary international standards,” he added.He said Pakistan’s nuclear security regime was based on national legislative regulatory and administrative framework.

Sartaj Aziz said the elements of nuclear security in Pakistan included robust command and control system led by the National Command Authority (NCA), rigorous regulatory regime, comprehensive export controls and international cooperation.

“We follow the principle of multi-layered defence to prevent and effectively respond to the entire spectrum of threats,” he said. The adviser said over the years, Pakistan had streamlined and strengthened its export control regime and enhanced its engagement with multilateral export control regimes. He said Pakistan’s export control regime was at par with the standards followed by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and Australia Group. He said Pakistan was a peace loving country that was compelled to acquire nuclear deterrence in the face of grave threats to its security and integrity.

“As a responsible state, Pakistan remains fully committed to the objectives of non-proliferation and disarmament and shares the global concern that proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) poses serious threat to international peace and security,” he said.

Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan made several proposals for keeping South Asia free of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems, including simultaneous accession to NPT since 1974 when the first nuclear test was conducted in its neighbourhood. But none of the proposals met a favourable response, he regretted.

He said Pakistan had always endeavoured to fulfil its international obligations and was a state party to various international instruments, including CWC, BTWC, PTBT, CPPNM and IAEA code of conduct on safety and security of radioactive sources and participates in the IAEA Incident and Trafficking Database (ITDB).

“We also actively participate in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) and regularly submit reports to the UN Security Council 1,540 Committee on the measures we take to exercise control over transfer of sensitive materials and technologies,” he said.

The adviser also spoke of the negative impact on South Asia’s strategic stability owing to policies that were being guided by individual state’s strategic and commercial considerations. He pointed to the Indo-US civil nuclear deal and the subsequent discriminatory waiver granted to India by the NSG.

“Eight years down the road, one wonders what benefit the non-proliferation regime has secured from the deal,” Sartaj said. He said the introduction of nuclear submarines, development of ABM system and massive acquisition of conventional weapons prompt offensive inclinations manifested in doctrines such as the Cold Start and proactive operations that pose a serious threat to regional stability.

 

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