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India's special status will have serious implications for South Asia: Pakistan
K J M Varma in Islamabad | March 18, 2006 00:02 IST
Smarting under its failure to secure a nuclear deal with the US, Pakistan Friday night hit back saying the grant of "special status" to India by the Bush administration would have "serious implications" for South Asia leading to an arms race and that it would not accept any discriminatory treatment.
It said it would have been better if the US had considered a "package approach" for Pakistan and India for "strategic stability in South Asia and global non-proliferation regime".
"The grant of the waiver as a special case will have serious implications for the security environment in South Asia as well as for international non-proliferation efforts," Pakistan Foreign Office said in a hard hitting statement criticising the India-US nuclear agreement signed during US President George Bush's visit to New Delhi earlier in March.
"The objective of strategic stability in South Asia and the global non-proliferation regime would have been better served if the United States had considered a package approach for Pakistan and India, the two non-Non Proliferation Treaty nuclear weapons states, with a view to preventing a nuclear arms race in the region and promoting restraints while ensuring that the legitimate needs of both countries for civilian nuclear power generation are met," it said.
"On its part Pakistan would not accept any discriminatory treatment. While we will continue to act with responsibility in maintaining minimum credible deterrence and to avoid an arms race, we will neither be oblivious to our security requirements, nor to the needs of our economic development, which demand growth in the energy sector, including civilian nuclear power generation," the statement said.
This is the first time Pakistan, which made persistent requests to Washington to extend the deal to it, came out with a comprehensive reaction to the deal.
Bush, who visited Pakistan on March 4 publicly rejected Islamabad's request, saying Islamabad has a different "history" and needs and instead dispatched his Energy Secretary Sam Bodman this week to discuss plans to boost the country's conventional energy resources.
Defending its nuclear weapons programme, the statement said Pakistan built nuclear weapons only in response to India's pursuits to acquire them.
"The history of the nuclear development in South Asia shows that Pakistan had pursued the nuclear option only after India tested a nuclear device in 1974. Pakistan needed to restore the disturbed balance and was compelled to respond when India again tested in 1998," it said.
Its acquisition of nuclear weapons established "nuclear deterrence" which "ensured peace and stability in South Asia as was proven by subsequent events especially in 2002," it said.
"Following the resumption of the Composite Dialogue in 2004, it remains Pakistan's objective to avoid arms race, promote restraints, reduce risk and maintain the nuclear deterrent at the minimum credible level," it claimed.
"The proposed exception for India will not be helpful to the shared objectives of stability in South Asia and a strong global non-proliferation regime. The agreement, which keeps a large number of facilities and reactors, including breeder reactors outside safeguards, would only encourage India to continue its weapons programme without any constraint or inhibition," the statement said.
It said its two civilian nuclear power reactors are totally covered by the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, including the spent fuel produced by these reactors.
Pakistan has one reactor built by Canada and another by China. One more civilian reactor is being built with Chinese assistance.
Appealing to the Nuclear Supplier Group countries to be sensitive to Pakistan's energy needs, it said, "Our future nuclear power generation reactors will also be under safeguards. We expect all the NSG member countries to be sensitive to Pakistan's energy needs and extend cooperation in the civilian nuclear sector," it said.