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India invokes anti-terror pledge
Published on 3 Sep. 2009 1:02 AM IST
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Indicating its willingness to engage with Pakistan, India Wednesday said any meaningful dialogue will depend on Islamabad honouring its anti-terror pledge in letter and spirit and stressed that steps to address terrorism would also be in the interest of the neighbouring country. “The composite dialogue had been paused after the terrorist attack on Mumbai. We do sincerely believe it is in our vital interest to engage and normalize our relations with Pakistan,” External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said in response to a question from a journalist on the ministry’s performance in the government’s first 100 days in office. “At the same time we are very clear that any meaningful dialogue with Pakistan can only be based on fulfillment of its commitment, in letter and spirit, not to allow its territory to be used in any manner for terrorist activities against India,” he added. Therefore, steps to address the issue of terrorism will be in the interest of the bilateral relationship and also in the interest of Pakistan, the minister stressed. Krishna also emphasised India’s pursuit of “a peaceful neighborhood in which all South Asian nations can work in concert to attain the common objective of growth and development, as well as combat challenges, especially the menace of terrorism.” Underlining the interlinked destinies of South Asian countries, Krishna said that India is deepening relations with all its neighbours and is ensuring that the progress in relations is not held hostage to “difficult, outstanding issues.” “We are deepening ties with a number of South Asian countries as also to see democratic traditions taking deeper roots in our neighborhood,” the minister maintained. Krishna’s reminder to Islamabad of its anti-terror pledge came even as Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik Wednesday highlighted the “resolute action” taken by his country to eliminate terrorism and made a fresh pitch for restarting the talks New Delhi froze after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks that claimed over 170 lives, including those of 26 foreigners. Islamabad also sought to revive the Kashmir issue that found no explicit mention in the Sharm el-Sheikh joint statement that came out of the July 16 meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani. The resumption of the sub-continental dialogue would provide a good opportunity to address various issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, Malik said while addressing senior defence and civilian officers at the National Defence College here. This, he added, was the essence of lasting and durable peace in South Asia. Malik averred that Pakistan was “taking resolute action to eliminate terrorism and militancy” and highlighted some of the steps taken by his country in the aftermath of the Nov 26-29, 2008 Mumbai attacks. “It (terrorism) is a regional issue requiring a regional solution,” he maintained. Alluding to the Sharm el-Sheikh joint statement, the Pakistani envoy said both sides had acknowledged that “dialogue is the only way forward to discuss all the outstanding issues.” India slams Pak for enhancing N-capabilities A day after reports quoting US experts emerged that Pakistan was expanding its nuclear capabilities, New Delhi has slammed Islamabad for building up weapons stockpile. Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor said on Wednesday that Pakistan was going well beyond the degree of deterrence in enhancing its nuclear capabilities. It is a matter of concern for us,” Kapoor said reacting to an article published in the latest issue of ‘Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist’ about enhanced nuclear arsenal of Pakistan. “There were certain degrees of deterrence and the figure of 70-90 nuclear warheads directed against a country certainly goes beyond the concept of deterrence,” the Army chief said. On Tuesday, reports emerged quoting two US experts that Pakistan was enhancing its atomic weapon capabilities across the board by developing and deploying new nuclear-capable missiles and expanding its capacity to produce fissile material. In the report, Robert S Norris and Hans Kristensen also claimed based on estimations that Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile has jumped to an estimated 70-90 warheads from a previous figure of 60. “A new nuclear-capable ballistic missile is being readied for deployment, and two nuclear capable cruise missiles are under development. Two new plutonium production reactors and a second chemical separation facility also are under construction,” Norris and Kristensen wrote. However, they agreed that it is exceedingly difficult to estimate precisely how many nuclear weapons Pakistan has produced, how many are deployed, and of what types. “It is equally troublesome to guess what its future plans might be,” the article says. Norris is a Senior Research Associate at the Natural Resources Defense Council while Kristensen is Director, Nuclear Information Project at Federation of American Scientists. The two US experts believe that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal might not have crossed the 100 figure mark. The claims come amid concerns expressed by the US over illegal modification by Pakistan of US-made Harpoon anti-ship missile, a weapon that could target India, reported ZeeNews on its website, Wednesday. Between 1985 and 1988 the Ronald Reagan administration of the US delivered 165 Harpoon missiles to Pakistan. The Obama administration has taken the reports of missile modifications by Pakistan ‘very seriously’. “We have seen these reports in ‘The New York Times’. We take the possibility of any potential violations of obligations entered into pursuant to the Arms Export Control Act – we take these allegations very seriously,” said the State Department spokesman, Ian Kelly. The US will now be carrying out inspections to address possible modifications to any arms that have been transferred to Pakistan.

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