India’s missile programme can nuclearise Indian Ocean: Pak

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Agencies

Islamabad, May 19: Pakistan on Thursday alleged that India was pursuing conventional, nuclear and missile development programmes which can lead to nuclearisation of the Indian Ocean and can disturb the “balance of power” in the region.

Speaking on India’s successful testing of a ballistic missile defense system on May 15, Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said that apart from this air defence system, India has also recently conducted tests of nuclear capable, submarine based K4 Ballistic Missiles.

“Simultaneously large nuclear powered submarines are being built to carry these nuclear armed missile as a part of its second strike nuclear capability,” Aziz alleged while making a statement in the Senate, the Upper House of Parliament.

“These two developments are part of the massive conventional nuclear and missile development programmes being pursued by India, which are now leading to nuclearisation of Indian Ocean,” he said, adding Pakistan would take “all necessary measures” to augment its defence capabilities.

Aziz said that the development of a ballistic missile defense system and nuclear-powered submarines by India will upset the strategic balance in South Asia and affect the maritime security of all the 32 littoral states around the Indian Ocean.

Raising questions over the effectiveness of these missile defence systems, Aziz said the development of Anti-Ballistic Missile system (ABMs) may give India a false sense of security, leading to unexpected complications.

“We are not oblivious to our defence needs and will have to upgrade our defensive capabilities through suitable technologies without entering into an arms race,” he said.

Pakistan is also considering moving a resolution in the next session of the UN General Assembly in September to declare the Indian Ocean a “nuclear free zone” and will approach all the 32 littoral states that straddle the Indian Ocean to co-sponsor this resolution, he added.

Meanwhile, Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria said at his weekly briefing that Pakistan has serious concern over India’s supersonic interceptor missile testing.

“Pakistan has serious concerns over India’s interceptor missile test and will take all necessary measures to augment its defence capabilities,” he said.

He further said that Indian actions were against the spirit of a peaceful and friendly neighbourhood. “We have sensitised the US and other members of the Conference on Disarment in Geneva about Pakistan’s concerns about India’s missile programme,” he added.

Responding to another question, Zakaria said it appears that the Indian government is trying to exonerate individuals, who many in India itself believe were involved in Samjhauta Express terrorist attack, resulting in the loss of lives of more than 42 innocent Pakistanis.

“During his visit to India last month, the Foreign Secretary conveyed Pakistan’s concern to his Indian counterpart and urged the Indian government for fair investigation and trial of the terrorist attack,” he said.

To another question about reported Indian request for an NIA team to visit Pakistan regarding Pathankot investigations, Zakaria said that he does not have any such information.

He said that normalisation of relations between Pakistan and India would require sincere efforts, good faith and commitment from both sides.

“We have already conveyed that the dialogue process will not be a concession from one side to the other but a modest modus vivendi in inter-state relations,” he said, adding “Pakistan is ready when India is ready for the dialogue”.

He also said that so far there were no proposed dates for any meeting but both sides had contacted each other at various levels.

“Once there are indications for an agreed date, we will let you know,” he said.

The spokesman also raised the issue of the arrest of an alleged RAW operative in Pakistan.

“We have conveyed our concerns bilaterally to the Indian side as well as through the international community. Such acts undermine efforts to normalise relations between the two countries,” he said.

Talking about ties with China, he said that Pakistan and China will be celebrating 65 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations during this month and a number of activities have been scheduled to be held spreading over months to mark the occasion in a befitting manner.