Saturday, February 02, 2008
‘India working with friends to safeguard Pakistan’s N-assets’
* Official says India concerned about Pakistani nukes falling into terrorist hands
* Claims agreement with IAEA on Indo-US nuclear deal expected shortly
By Iftikhar Gilani
NEW DELHI: Concerned about the possibility of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal being compromised by terrorists, India has started working with “friends” around the world to prevent such a possibility. A senior External Affairs Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, on Friday said relations with Pakistan have normalised to such a great extent that no party in Pakistan has blamed New Delhi for any of the violence of the past 10 months. He also talked of “a consensus, both in India and Pakistan, to pick up threads (of dialogue), once elections are over in Pakistan”, when asked about the impact of a new regime coming into power after the elections. On the fate of dialogue in a post-Musharraf era, the official said the peace dialogue was never personality-centric. He said India was privately in touch with all parties concerned, adding that the leaders of almost all major Pakistani political parties had visited Delhi in the last two years. Cannot secure: Asked about the possibility of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal falling into terrorist hands, he said it was a concern for India, but it could not secure them. “However, we are working with our friends around the world to see that this possibility of (nuclear weapons) getting into bad hands is minimised,” he said. He said the current situation in Pakistan was very complicated and difficult, adding, “At the end, we hope to see a stable Pakistan government. We hope for free and fair elections.” On Afghanistan, the senior official dismissed bifurcating the Taliban into “good Taliban” and “bad Taliban”. “They (Taliban) have never shown any inclination to join normal political forces. They need to be dealt with in the manner currently being employed,” he said. Agreement soon: On the Indo-US nuclear deal, he said an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to secure a safeguard agreement was expected shortly. “We have already concluded three rounds of talks and a fourth round will be held very soon,” he added. After the IAEA agreement, India will next approach the Nuclear Supplies Group (NSG), he said. He said opposition to the deal only existed at home, referring to the Left allies and the opposition. Dismissing the rumours that a recent disagreement with Russia on price hikes of military hardware may affect ties between the two countries, the official said Indo-Russia ties are deeply entrenched at both strategic and political levels. On the recent launch of an Israeli spy satellite from the Indian satellite launch vehicle, he said India had offered its services to the world and this does not reflect a particular tilt towards any country. “We will be happy to launch the satellite of any other country, provided we are appropriately paid for the services,” he added. He expressed worries at the slow-pace of democratic reforms in Myanmar, saying New Delhi was opposed to imposing sanctions on the regime to speed up the process. On China, the official said, “The Indo-China relationship today is based on trade and does not focus solely on boundary disputes.” He said contacts between the two powers were “a marked contrast to the atmosphere of 20 years ago”.
Courtesy Daily Times