ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Thursday urged the international community to check Indian conventional and nuclear arms build-up that had caused strategic anxiety in the region.
“With conventional weapons balance already disturbed, India’s nuclear weapons build-up has dangerous proportions to tip the strategic balance and endanger peace of the region and beyond,” FO spokesman Nafees Zakaria said at a weekly media briefing.
He said the Indian defence minister’s statement on reviewing the ‘nuclear no-first use’ and admission by the Indian army chief about their ‘Cold Start doctrine’ had heightened concerns over Indian intentions and threats to regional peace.
What makes Pakistan particularly concerned about the Indian designs is the unresolved Kashmir dispute. An uprising has been going on in India-held Kashmir since July last year and the authorities there have been carrying out a brutal crackdown on the protesters.
No fears of Pakistan being included on the US travel ban list: FO
The situation caused by “Indian belligerence” was “dangerously impacting peace and security in the region,” Mr Zakaria said, echoing a statement issued by the military top brass a day earlier that ceasefire violations posed a threat to regional stability.
“Indian defence build-up, both nuclear and conventional, is a direct threat to Pakistan and the region, at large,” he said and recalled some of the recent developments relating to India’s fast growing nuclear programme, including the commissioning of nuclear submarine, building inter-continental ballistic missiles and anti-ballistic missile systems and the upcoming ‘secret nuclear city’.
Foreign Policy magazine first reported in 2015 about the secret nuclear city being built in Karnataka state since 2012. It was then projected in the report to be the subcontinent’s largest military-run complex of nuclear centrifuges, atomic-research laboratories and weapons- and aircraft-testing facilities once completed. Besides, producing fuel for India’s nuclear reactors and helping power the country’s fleet of new submarines, the project will reportedly produce hydrogen bombs, also known as thermonuclear weapons.
The Indian external affairs ministry immediately reacted to the FO spokesman’s comments and dismissed the ‘secret nuclear city’ statement as a “figment of Pakistani imagination”.
The Indian ministry’s spokesman said it was diversionary tactic by Pakistan to deflect the world’s attention from the allegations about sponsoring terrorism and harbouring internationally designated terrorists.
Mr Zakaria welcomed a Russian initiative to hold a regional conference on Afghanistan involving Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, Iran and India. The conference scheduled for later this month will be held in Moscow.
“Pakistan is committed to peace in Afghanistan and extends sincere support to the initiatives to that end,” he said.
The FO spokesman recalled that Pakistan had earlier participated in other initiatives aimed at bringing peace to Afghanistan, including the Heart of Asia ministerial conference hosted by India in Amritsar last year.
Mr Zakaria said the government was in touch with the Trump administration on travel ban and there were no fears of Pakistan being included in the list.
“We are in touch with the new administration in (Washington) D.C. and have been assured that no proposal to include Pakistan in the list of banned countries is under consideration. The US Embassy in Islamabad has also issued a statement to this effect,” he maintained.