UNITED NATIONS - With the US-India civilian nuclear deal on his mind, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday called on the international community to reverse nuclear discrimination that has serious implications for Pakistan’s national security and also the global non-proliferation regime.
In a speech to the first high-level meeting ever held by the General Assembly devoted to nuclear disarmament, he regretted that nuclear policies “dictated by politics and profits in the recent past are altering the strategic balance in our region.”
The 2008 agreement lifted a three-decade US moratorium on nuclear trade with India. It provides US assistance to India's civilian nuclear energy programme, and expands US-India cooperation in energy and satellite technology. But, the Washington has refused to sign a similar agreement with Islamabad.
Critics say the Indo-US deal fundamentally reverses half a century of US non-proliferation efforts, undermines attempts to prevent states from acquiring nuclear weapons, and potentially contributes to a nuclear arms race in Asia.
Pakistan's nuclear policy was guided by the principles of restraint and responsibility, Nawaz said, adding, "We do not want an arms race in South Asia, because consequences of conflict will be horrendous."
At the same time, Nawaz Sharif said, Pakistan was fully alive to the evolving security dynamics and would maintain deterrence to reinforce strategic stability in South Asia. Pakistan, he said, would continue to adhere to its policy of the Credible Minimum Deterrence, without entering into an arms race.
On the proposed Fissile Material Treaty, he said Pakistan's stance was determined by national security and strategic equilibrium in South Asia. "We advocate a comprehensive strategic restraint regime that establishes nuclear restraint, balance in conventional forces and a mechanism for conflict resolution." Pakistan, the prime minister said, believes in the concept of security for all; not security of a privileged few.
"It was on my watch as Prime Minister in 1998 that Pakistan conducted nuclear tests," Nawaz Sharif said. "I can tell this Assembly that this decision was taken after much thought and deliberation. We were compelled to do so in response to the developments in our neighbourhood. It was an existential choice we made for strategic stability in our region."
He called for Pakistan’s inclusion in all export control regimes, including Nuclear Suppliers Group. He said energy deficit was one of the most serious crises facing Pakistan. "We require energy from all sources – conventional and alternate"
Pakistan, he added, qualified to have full access to civil nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. "We have the expertise, manpower and infrastructure to produce civil nuclear energy.
"As we revive our national economy, we look forward to international cooperation and assistance in nuclear energy under IAEA safeguards."