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Sartaj Aziz says India top security concern for Pakistan; rules out reducing Nukes

Sartaj-Aziz

Washington: Identifying the “strategic and conventional imbalance with India” as the topmost security threat to it, Pakistan on Tuesday rejected America’s call to reduce or cap its nuclear weapons arsenal, believed to be the fastest growing in the world.

“I think (Pakistan’s top) security concern is strategic and conventional imbalance with India,” the Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz told Defence Writers Group in a breakfast meeting this morning.

Terrorism comes only after that, he said.

“Terrorism is something our own domestic (concern). It is overflow of terrorism from Afghanistan that becomes the second (top security concern for Pakistan) within our borders, which hopefully we would be able to control it in the next few years,” he said, responding to a question on what was Pakistan?s top security concern or threat.

Aziz also ruled out America?s desire that Pakistan reduce or cap its fast expanding nuclear weapons arsenal and put the onus for it on India.

“If India does (caps its nuclear weapons program) we would think about it,” he said when asked at this point of time Pakistan is not thinking of capping or reducing its stockpile of nuclear weapons, as asked by the United States.

“But if India does not, how can we cap?” Aziz asked.

Citing the example of the US and Russia which are working to further reduce their nuclear arsenals, Secretary of State John Kerry had asked Pakistan yesterday to understand this reality and review its nuclear policy.

“I think, it is important for Pakistan to really process that reality and put that front and center in its policy,” he said in an apparent reference to the reports that Pakistan has the fastest growing stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world.

The nuclear and non-proliferation issue is among the six topics that was discussed during the sixth US-Pak Strategic Dialogue co-chaired by Kerry and Aziz here yesterday.
“Our nuclear program is a deterrence. It is India which is expanding its nuclear arsenal at a much faster rate than we are,” Aziz alleged.

“The concept of deterrence is a dynamic one. Deterrence has to be effective and our deterrence is India centric. If India would not have started its nuclear program, we would have never done this,” he said.

“India is developing its nuclear stock. Its ability after the (civil nuclear) agreement with the United States to divert more stocks to it, more fissile materials to nuclear weapons has increased much more,” he claimed.

Aziz said the visiting Pakistani delegation had a very good interaction with the US.

“They (US) broadly accept out need of an effective nuclear deterrence. I do not think; we have any major issues in this. We keep discussing these things,” he said.

“If India were to accept this importance of resolving disputes, improving relations, both of us would not need this. But unfortunately that is not happening. And so we have no option but to have what we call minimum effective deterrence.”

When referred to Kerry’s remarks in this regard in which he cited the example of US and Russia wherein they reduced the number of nuclear weapon stock piles from 50,00 to now just 1500, Aziz pointed out that they improved their relationship.

“When dialogue (between India and Pakistan) begins, we have a frank discussion on some of these things. Our ceasefire line or Line of Control we want to keep (it) quite, and an agreement to make sure that there is no firing or other thing. That?s why the importance of having a regular dialogue between the two countries so that things do not flare up,” he said.

“You can?t define like that,” he said when asked how he would quantify minimum effective nuclear deterrence as Pakistan is estimated to have more than 100-120 nuclear weapons, according to some experts.

“It is a dynamic concept. If you (India) keep expanding every month, every six month, obviously you can?t define at this particular point of time,” Aziz said.

—PTI

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