ISLAMABAD: Leader of the house in the Senate of Pakistan, Senator Raja Zafar-ul-Haq has said that Pakistan has serious reservations over Indo-US nuclear deal and related efforts to give India more prominence in international nuclear scenario by bypassing laws and was closely monitoring the regional and global developments.
He was speaking at a seminar at Institute of Policy Studies on the topic of “Indo-US Nuclear Deal and Pakistan: The Years Ahead”, which he chaired. The seminar was also addressed by Ambassador (retd) Tariq Osman Hyder, as a keynote speaker, and DG-IPS Khalid Rahman. Moderated by senior IPS associate and security analyst, Air Commodore (retd) Khalid Iqbal, the seminar was attended by a large number of security experts, representatives of key security-related organizations, diplomats, researchers and local and foreign media personnel.
Zafar-ul-Haq said that Pakistan would build upon its own strengths to improve its nuclear capabilities for civil uses and maintain formidable defense but would also explore other avenues available for the purpose.
“We need to move on and keeping our principled stance, show the same commitment and resilience that we have shown in the past”, he maintained.
He said Pakistan had been able to ride the tide and encounter the challenges posed to it since its inception. The newly elected government had the formidable task of reviving the dignity of the country and rise as a respectable nation, he added.
Tariq Osman Hyder, in his keynote address, asked the United States and other members of nuclear suppliers group (NSG) to adopt “non-discriminatory, criteria-based approach” in extending nuclear cooperation to other countries.
Underlining the anomalies, contradictions and double-standards in Indo-US nuclear deal, he said that eight Indian power reactors had been permitted to remain outside IAEA’s safeguards without any justification and were capable of producing weapons grade plutonium for nuclear weapons.
“It seems that non-proliferation is a mere cliché and means nothing serious to United States and other NSG countries”, he observed, adding that “for this purpose, not only international laws were violated but US had to amend its domestic laws too”.
The speaker was of the view that US was investing in India as part of a “grand strategy” in which India had to play a role in an “anti-China coalition”.
He reminded that track record of Pakistan in secure handling of its nuclear program was much better than many other nations pointing fingers at Pakistan. He stressed the need to better project the efforts of Pakistan in the field of nuclear security and non-proliferation. He highlighted a number of options and chalked out a comprehensive guideline, offering opportunities to Pakistan in its quest for civil nuclear energy and just global order.
Highlighting Pakistan’s persistent efforts to instill a culture of security in all facets of its nuclear program, he said that security consciousness had been an integral part of Pakistan’s nuclear development and had an “active and ongoing collaboration” with the IAEA on civil nuclear security issues.
“Pakistan wants a relationship based on reciprocal respect with India and had been advocating a strategic restraint regime aiming at nuclear restraint, conventional balance and dispute resolution but Indian response has been disappointing. Coversely, India is hardening its position and is further developing its combat capabilities with cooperation of other countries,” he said.
Hyder told the participants that though Pakistan had been proposing against missile defense program in the region but it was left with no option but to further improve its deterrence. He termed the new Indian military doctrine as ‘dangerous’, and observed that it circumvented the agreements between Pakistan and India and was clearly offence-oriented. He warned the US and other NSG countries that disturbing the strategic balance in South Asia would have detrimental effects to the maintenance of peace and stability in the region.
“While Pakistan will continue to act with responsibility in maintaining minimum credible deterrence and to avoid an arms race, it will neither be oblivious to its security requirements, nor to the needs of its economic development which demand growth in the energy sector including civilian nuclear power generation”, he emphasized.
Khalid Iqbal highlighted the significant economic impact the Indo-US nuclear deal would have on Pakistan with cheap power generation through nuclear power plants coming online by 2016 that will bring down the per unit electricity cost to approximately five to six rupees in India, providing huge competitive advantage to the industry there; whereas cost of electricity unit in Pakistan will be more than twenty rupees per unit.