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Pakistan would be erased if it uses nukes: Fernandes
January 27, 2003 09:43 IST
Defence Minister George Fernandes on Sunday night said Pakistan would be 'erased from the world map' if it uses nuclear weapons against India.
"We have been saying all through that the person who heads Pakistan today, who is also... in-charge of that country, has been talking about using dangerous weapons, including nukes," Fernandes said in a phone-in programme of BBC World.
"I would say that if Pakistan has decided that it wants to get itself destroyed and erased from the world map, then it may take this step of madness. But if it wants to survive then it would not do so.
"There has been this talk of Pakistani nuclear weapons falling into the hands of dangerous elements. We believe that whatever be the policy of the Pakistani leadership towards India; howsoever irresponsible they may be, it is difficult to accept that they will put such weapons in the hands of individuals or organisations."
On infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir, Fernandes said after the war in Afghanistan 'armed units of the Taliban had entered Pakistan'.
"They were provided not only shelter by Pakistan, but all possible help, including training. It is difficult to say how far the United States will be ready to impress upon Pakistan to give up such dangerous policies," he said.
Asked what India had achieved by deploying the army on the border, the defence minister said if such an action was not taken 'Pakistan could have indulged in Kargil-type activities'.
He said, "We were suspicious that Pakistan could take a major step. Therefore the need was to be prepared for any eventuality.
"After we deployed our army on the border, Pakistan also did the same, but did not try anything else. It was due to our deployment that they did not take any further step. If they had tried, we would have given them a befitting reply. The target given to the armed forces here was to keep the country's borders safe, which they did well."
Asked if it was proper to use the army for counter-insurgency operations, he said, "I had made it clear the day I assumed charge of the defence ministry that the work of the army is to protect the borders, and not to struggle with the internal problems of the country.
"But today we are dealing with a proxy war. It is not a problem of internal revolt -- it is a war imposed on us by Pakistan."
On whether the Indian defence system was capable of meeting any eventuality, he answered in the affirmative.
"Yes, today we are fully equipped. Five or six years before the government led by Atalji came to power, the strategic capability of the armed forces was hindered due to lack of funds. But we have removed these hurdles.
"I feel it is a matter of greatest pride that today we have such a defence capability that no enemy will even dare to stare at us."
Asked what the government proposed to do since China had taken over the Coco Island near Andaman and Nicobar Islands on lease from Myanmar, the minister said that the island was a part of India until it was donated by prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
"China and Pakistan have been old friends, but as of today we can say that efforts are being made to improve relations between India and China."