Pakistan’s civil and military leadership sought on Wednesday a ‘meaningful and sustainable comprehensive’ dialogue process with India to resolve all outstanding issues that have bedeviled the relationship between the two nuclear armed neighbours since 1947.
This came in a meeting of the high-powered National Command Authority (NCA), the apex body that controls Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired the meeting where attendees included ministers for defence, foreign affairs, finance and interior, as well as three services chiefs and other senior officials.
The NCA emphasised Pakistan’s desire for establishing the ‘Strategic Restraint Regime’ in South Asia, the military’s media wing, the ISPR, said in a statement. It also stressed that a meaningful and sustained comprehensive dialogue process for resolution of all outstanding disputes was ‘inescapable’.
The resolution of disputes, the statement added, would usher in an era of peace and prosperity in the region.
The statement came at a time when India is apparently dragging its feet on key foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan. The talks were to take place in January but were postponed after a deadly terrorist attack on an Indian air base in Phathankot, which New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammad militant group.
While expressing a desire for meaningful talks with India, the NCA took note of growing conventional and strategic weapons’ development in the region. In an apparent reference to India, the NCA voiced serious concerns over the adverse ramifications for peace and security due to these developments.
The forum reiterated its determination to take all possible measures to make national security robust, enabling it to effectively respond to threats to national security without indulging in an arms race.
“Reiterating that nuclear deterrence is the factor of stability in South Asia, the NCA expressed the resolve to maintain full spectrum deterrence, in line with the policy of credible minimum deterrence,” the statement said.
Acknowledging the services and professionalism displayed by the scientists and engineers, the forum congratulated them for the recent successful tests of various ballistic and cruise missile systems.
The NCA took a comprehensive review of the security and safety mechanism of the nuclear programme and expressed deep satisfaction on the measures in-place to ensure highly effective security of strategic assets and installations.
The NCA reposed full confidence in the reliable command and control system of the national strategic capability and appreciated the high standard of operational preparedness of the strategic forces.
The forum noted with satisfaction that Pakistan has the requisite credentials that entitle it to become part of all multilateral export control regimes, including the Nuclear Suppliers Group, for which Pakistan seeks adoption of a non-discriminatory approach.
The NCA was also briefed on the Nuclear Security Summit scheduled to be held in Washington. Details of inter-agency process to ratify the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (Amended) by Pakistan were also presented to the NCA which gave approval in principle for its ratification.
It was reaffirmed that, as a responsible nuclear State, Pakistan would continue to contribute meaningfully towards global efforts to improve nuclear security and nuclear non-proliferation measures.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th, 2016.