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|June 8, 1998||
Our nukes are not for aggression, says Sharief
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief said his country would never use its nuclear weapons to commit aggression.
"These weapons are mainly to deter aggression against Pakistan, whether conventional or nuclear", Sharief said in an interview with the Arabic newspaper Al Ittihad and its sister daily Emirates News.
He said it was now up to India to "abandon its reckless and irresponsible actions as well as its repression in Kashmir, and agree to a serious, substantive and meaningful dialogue" with Pakistan on all outstanding issues including Kashmir.
"We are also prepared to discuss nuclear stabilisation measures with India," he said.
He said the agenda for talks between the two countries had already been agreed upon by both sides in June last year.
The Pakistan prime minister said his country's nuclear programme was "totally indigenous".
"Indian propaganda about the Chinese connection is not only absurd, but also self-serving. India has used a fictitious threat from China as an excuse to weaponise its nuclear programme," he alleged.
Sharief said South Asia was on "the brink of a disastrous nuclear arms race".
"We only hope that sanity will prevail and India will join us in agreeing to measures for nuclear restraint and stability in South Asia," he said.
He said Pakistan would like the international community to adopt a comprehensive approach with the inter-linked issues of peace, security, confidence-building, conventional imbalance as well as conventional and nuclear arms control in South Asia.
"We are prepared to engage constructively, both with the international community and with India, in furthering such a realistic and pragmatic approach," he said.
Asked if Pakistan had any conditions for signing the CTBT, Sharief said his government's goal was to preserve the country's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity by maintaining the strategic balance in its region.
"For the moment, we are not focussing on academic issues pertaining to global non-proliferation, such as NPT, CTBT, and FMCT, which, in any case, cannot be pursued in a situation of a security void," he said.
In reply to a question about the sanctions imposed by the United States and other countries on Pakistan, Sharief said, "Sanctions are unjust, unlawful and immoral."
He said his government would try to limit the impact of the sanctions "through optimal utilisation of resources, austerity measures, increased economic activity and cuts in non-development expenditure."
Sharief accused the major powers of failing to honour their obligations under the NPT, "which in any case is a discriminatory treaty."
"Some nuclear weapon states have sought to justify eir retention of nuclear weapons on the basis of the doctrines of nuclear deterrence, when none of them is threatened, directly or indirectly, in the post-Cold War era," he argued.
Sharief said the root cause of the present crisis in South Asia was the "handling of conflicts and tensions between Pakistan and India".
"This is the immediate problem that needs to be addressed", he stressed.
According to him, peace and stability in South Asia was a pre-requisite for the stability of all adjoining regions, including the Gulf.
He declared that Pakistan was determined to maintain strategic parity with India at all costs.
Sharief charged that India had threatened Pakistan with "nuclear blackmail with a view to impose a military solution in Kashmir".
"The international community must seriously address the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, so that the risk of nuclear conflict is averted in South Asia," he added.
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