ISLAMABAD - Pakistan on Thursday said that India is capable of producing 2,600 nuclear weapons as it has the fastest growing nuclear programme in the world.

Addressing a weekly media briefing here, Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said India’s nuclear aspirations pose a threat to strategic stability in the South Asian region.

Questioned about a paper recently released by Harvard Kennedy School that India can build 2,600 nuclear weapons in future, Zakaria said Pakistan had examined the contents and conclusions of the paper released by the Belfer Center on India’s fissile materials, fuel cycles and safeguards.

“In the past few years, many international nuclear experts, think tanks and media reports have consistently raised concerns over the lack of transparency, absence of international safeguards, and the potential for diversion of unsafeguarded nuclear material for nuclear weapons in India,” he added.

He said that this paper and other several reports corroborate growing concerns related to the use of nuclear material acquired by India from abroad in its existing and future unsafeguarded nuclear reactors, plants and facilities for development of nuclear weapons.

“Cumulatively, such reports and papers substantiate an, otherwise, largely ignored fact. India’s nuclear weapons programme is the fastest growing in the world. The recent Belfer paper inter alia concludes that India has accumulated nuclear material for over 2,600 nuclear weapons,” he said.

For a decade, he said that Pakistan had been underscoring the risks of diversion by India of imported nuclear fuel, equipment and technology, received pursuant to civil nuclear cooperation agreements and the 2008 Nuclear Supply Group waiver.

He said that the concerns over diversion were neither new nor unfounded. “India enjoys the rare distinction of diverting nuclear material, obtained on its peaceful use commitment, to its nuclear weapons programme,” he added.

He said that the potential misuse of nuclear materials by India entailed not only serious issues of nuclear proliferation but also carried grave implications for strategic stability in South Asia and national security of Pakistan.

“NSG states have a responsibility to take into account these well-founded concerns while considering transfer of nuclear material to India and its NSG membership bid,” he said.

To a question on Afghanistan, he said that Pakistan had repeatedly emphasised the need for a peaceful resolution of Afghan conflict.

“We are of the view that there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict as the military option has failed to deliver in the past 15 years.

We believe that a lasting solution to Afghan conflict can be achieved through an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process. However, we understand that increase in US and NATO troops is being done for strengthening capacity building of Afghan security forces,” he said.

He said that Pakistan the Afghan policy review by the new Donald Trump administration is still not complete.

“It is, therefore, premature for us to comment on the subject,” he added.

He said that consultations were going on between the military personnel of both sides.

“The basic reason why border was closed was due to the unpleasant episode that led to loss of several lives. That is the reason why the people in those areas were evacuated and border was closed. Unless the issue is settled amicably and with mutual understanding from both sides, opening the border will endanger the lives of our people. Protection of our citizens lives is our responsibility,” he said.

Asked if the Trump administration had raised the issue of Shakeel Afridi with Pakistan, Zakaria said: “I am not aware if the matter of Shakeel Afridi has been taken up as you suggest. Besides, this case is sub-judice.”

He said that the two Pakistani diplomats were detained by the Afghan authorities in violation of the International Convention on Diplomatic Immunity. “That’s the reason why the Foreign Office summoned Afghan Deputy Head of the Mission DHM,” the spokesperson said.

He said that Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had written a letter to the UN Secretary General urging to take notice of Indian attempts to bring demographic change in Held Kashmir.

He condemned the Indian forces actions against defenceless Kashmiris to suppress their legitimate indigenous movement for their right to self-determination, as promised to them in the UNSC Resolutions.

He also lamented violations by India along the Line of Control.

Sartaj Aziz’s letter, he said, specifically pointed out the issuance of permanent residence certificates to non-residents, allotment of land to retired Indian Army personnel, issuance of land to non-Kashmiris, the establishment of separate townships for Kashmiri pundits and settlement of West Pakistan refugees in Kashmir.

To a question regarding medical visas to India, he said, most patients who were travelling to India from Pakistan were old people or young children with serious ailments requiring urgent medical attention.

“Despite paying for their treatment themselves, these patients are being deprived of their basic right to health, due to political consideration on the part of India,” he added.

He said that India had recently made the issuance of every medical visa from Pakistan conditional to a letter addressed by the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs to the Indian Minister of External Affairs.

“While granting or denying a visa is a sovereign right of any country, this Indian move is unprecedented in inter-State relations,” he remarked.