June 1999 News


'First strike': No change in Pakistan's Nuclear strategy

19 June 1999
The Dawn
By: Hasan Akhtar

ISLAMABAD, June 19: There is no change in Pakistan strategy on the issue of "first strike" of its nuclear arms, Dawn was informed by a foreign ministry source. The source was asked to comment on a reported statement by the Stockholm International Peace Institute (SIPRI) that while India's policy had been not to use nuclear weapons first, in case of a conflict,"Pakistan could easily take a different track".

The source said Pakistan had not adopted any policy to renounce its right to first-strike, and added that Pakistan had made it known that its nuclear capability was primarily for use as deterrence.

The source avoided commenting on the SIPRI's reported statement that "the greater risk of nuclear war in South Asia arises from Pakistan's longstanding strategy of using the threat of early first-use of nuclear weapons to deter conventional war".

Pakistan's military policy, including its nuclear capability, are known to be India-specific for two major reasons: the festering row over the Jammu and Kashmir issue; and the establishment's belief that Delhi has not reconciled, even after 50 years, to the partition of the subcontinent and the creation of Pakistan.

Although the Lahore summit between Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Atal Behari Vajpayee in February this year had injected a fresh hope in diplomatic and political circles for a negotiated settlement of most of the outstanding issues and problems, it was dashed in May due to LoC violations by Delhi and fighting between Indian troops and Kashmiri Mujahideen in the Kargil and Drass sectors.

Pakistan expects major world powers to take notice of the threat to security and stability in South Asia, particularly after the failure of Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz to open dialogue last week with his Indian counterpart Jaswant Singh over the escalation of tension on the Line of Control, because of Delhi's intransigence.

Pakistan and India have separately approached G-8 leaders in the recent days, who are now in Cologne for a summit, for their intervention, although Delhi has been averse to a third-party mediation. However, Pakistan has been asserting that only a mutually acceptable third-party mediation can help resolve the Kashmir issue and other India-Pakistan disputes.

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