KARACHI: Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the high-profile recruit to the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, chose a curious issue to emphasise during his speech at the party’s Karachi rally on Sunday: nuclear assets, both at home and abroad.
The former foreign minister cast doubt that Pakistan nuclear assets were 100% safe. He told the massive crowd: “Pakistan’s nuclear programme is under a five-layered security system and is of international standards. But then you wonder what the threat is about? There is no physical threat but there is a threat from certain people.”
Qureshi also seemed to be appealing to nationalists, saying that a nuclear deal between the US and India severely undermines Pakistan.
He claimed that he had developed differences with the president over his decisions to not criticise the India-US civil nuclear partnership. Qureshi says that when he was the foreign minister, he expressed opinions against the US-India civil nuclear deal. However, according to him, President Zardari sent out a message that Pakistan will not go against any such nuclear deal.
Qureshi added that if Pakistan ever signs a ‘no first strike’ agreement with India, its nuclear assets will be wasted and worthless.
Clarifying PTI’s stand on India, Qureshi said that his party wanted friendship with everyone, including the US and India. However, it would not tolerate slave-master relations. “We want friendship and not slavery,” he said.
“If you want to see this country as an independent country, then vote for a leadership that has the guts to take bold stand on all such decisions,” Qureshi added.
“Pakistan is under threat because of our own weaknesses. No one from outside will come to help us, we have to mend things ourselves,” was the PTI vice-chairman’s conclusion.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2011.