ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office said on Thursday that Pakistan was ready to work with India to prevent an arms race in the region, stressing that the two countries needed to devote their resources for their people’s uplift.
“Pakistan remains ready to discuss arms control and restraint measures with India. Our proposal for Strategic Restraint Regime (SRR) can provide a basis for mutually agreed restraint measures and avoidance of an unnecessary arms race in the region,” Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria said at the weekly media briefing.
He was responding to a query relating to President Obama’s comments at the Nuclear Security Summit last week, in which he had asked India and Pakistan to work towards reducing their nuclear arsenal and develop military doctrines so that they do not “continually move in the wrong direction”.
Mr Zakaria said the government had taken note of President Obama’s call.
In February, the National Command Authority, the country’s top decision-making body on nuclear issues, had renewed the proposal for Strategic Restraint Regime, which has been on the table since Oct 1998, while expressing concern over India’s growing conventional and nuclear arsenals.
India has remained opposed to the proposal and avoided negotiations on the matter.
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)’s figures for global military expenditure released earlier this week ranked India as the sixth-largest spender in the world. In addition to India’s conventional build-up, Pakistan is also concerned about the rapid growth of India’s nuclear arsenal.
The spokesman noted that there was an increased understanding at the international level of Pakistan’s concerns over India’s expanding conventional and nuclear capabilities and their offensive force postures and military doctrines such as the ‘Cold Start Doctrine.’
Pakistanis have been particularly happy about US hyphenating it with India on non-proliferation. Feeling upset over the issue, the Indian external affairs ministry had, meanwhile, said that President Obama lacked “understanding of India’s defence posture”.
The spokesman said: “We believe that the limited resources of Pakistan and India should be channelled towards meeting the social needs of our people.”
SPY: Mr Zakaria said India’s request for consular access to the captured spy, Kulbushan Jhadav, was under consideration. The decision on the request, he said, would be taken as per the provisions of the 2008 accord on consular access.
In reply to a question regarding the interrogation of the detained spy, he said that investigations were ongoing. “Based on the confessional statement, our law enforcement agencies are making every effort to apprehend all individuals involved in subversive activities in Pakistan,” he said.
Pakistan, the spokesman underscored, remained concerned about the subversive activities of RAW against Pakistan and its interests from various locations in the region.
“We believe in living in a friendly and peaceful environment with all our neighbours, which can lead to the betterment of our people,” he maintained.
INDIA-SAUDI TIES: The spokesman refused to comment on the growing India-Saudi ties, saying the FO does not comment on bilateral ties of other countries.
Indian officials and leaders of the ruling BJP have, however, made no secret of their intentions of building ties with the Kingdom. They have said that their outreach to Saudi Arabia was part of a broader diplomatic offensive to put pressure on Pakistan by forging ties with some of Islamabad’s closest allies.