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|July 21, 1998||
Pakistan says it will not be coerced into signing CTBT, NPT
The Pakistan cabinet's defence committee under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief undertook a security and strategic review of the situation in the country. The committee expressed satisfaction at nuclear deterrence established following Pakistan's successful nuclear tests.
Convened on the eve of US Deputy Secretary Strobe Talbott's visit to Islamabad, the committee stressed that major powers could not coerce it into signing the nuclear Non-Proliferation and Test Ban treaties. Talbott arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday after talks in India on the CTBT.
A foreign ministry statement said a whole range of issues of peace and security, and nuclear stabilisation in the region would be discussed with Talbott. Kashmir, which caused two wars between India and Pakistan, will also figure in the talks.
Pakistan's defence committee has also expressed concern on India's acquisition of armaments which would further aggravate the security situation in the region.
An official statement said Pakistan could not ignore India's growing nuclear and conventional capabilities. The committee, therefore, underscored the need for Pakistan to safeguard its supreme national and security interests. This fundamental concern would govern Pakistan's diplomatic efforts in its engagement with major powers.
Pakistan wants the major powers to recognise that it is obliged to establish deterrence in the interest of restoring strategic balance, and peace in South Asia. Accordingly, any coercive measure by the international community would not only be unjustified but counter productive.
The Kashmir issue continues to play a central role in any security calculation for Pakistan. Pakistan remains convinced that the effective involvement of major powers and United Nations is essential for progress towards a just and final settlement of the issue.
While the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, also the recognised nuclear weapon states have asked Pakistan and India to sign the CTBT, the group of eight major industrialised nations have also approved economic sanctions to achieve that.
Pakistan is heavily in debt and considered more vulnerable to economic pressure than India. Political analysts expect Pakistan to sign the CTBT to survive economically.
The defence committee expressed confidence that the present economic difficulties were temporary.
Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad will lead the Pakistani side in the meeting with Talbott. He will also meet with Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan and Nawaz Sharief before leaving for the US on Wednesday.
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