Nuclear programme — non-negotiable
DESPITE national consensus on the nature and rationale of the country’s nuclear programme, the United States is persisting with its strategy, originally conceived when Pakistan started its journey on nuclear path, aimed at first capping and then rolling back the programme. There have been periods when Washington did not press Pakistan openly on the issue as it needed Pakistan’s cooperation in realization of its regional objectives and agenda but the game plan remains unchanged.
This has been confirmed twice by Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz — first in his statement on the floor of the Senate and again in an interview with state-run PTV in which he categorically stated that the Government resisted US attempts to cap Pakistan’s nuclear programme. His unambiguous remarks that the Government refused to make any compromise on this vital national issue would surely be a morale booster for people of Pakistan, who consider nuclear programme as an effective deterrence in the face of aggressive and expansionist designs of India. We have been repeating in these columns that the successive governments in Pakistan invested necessary resources and resisted pressures and continued to upgrade our nuclear capability and there should be no compromise on this account. We are glad that PML(N) Government, which rejected both temptations and foreign pressure and detonated nuclear device, has adopted a firm stand on the issue of capping of the nuclear programme. How Pakistan can afford to cap its programme when the US-led West is showering all concessions on India and providing every type of conceivable assistance to sharpen its nuclear teeth. Washington is also going out of the way to seek membership of Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) for India and is opening opposed to Pakistan’s entry into the Group, which is clear manifestation of double standards on the nuclear issue. The US is speaking India’s language by opposing miniaturization of nuclear weapons by Pakistan, a development which should otherwise have been welcomed as it is motivated by Islamabad’s desire to mitigate and contain lethality of nuclear weapons. The US must discard its futile policy of pressurizing Pakistan on the nuclear issue as no Government can afford to ignore national consensus on the programme on national defence and security.