Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif generally spoke with responsibility and sense while addressing a high-level UN General Assembly meeting in New York, also attended by other heads of government and the UN Secretary General. Pakistan’s own nuclear weapons have, of course, in recent years come under a degree of international scrutiny, regarding their security and the alarming possibility that they could fall into militant hands. In this context Sharif’s well-chosen words signalled maturity and should as such help reassure the outside world and those of us at home too. The prime minister spoke of the need for disarmament, non-proliferation and the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. These are all words that are good to hear. He was also quite correct in pointing out that an agreement reached for this purpose some 35 years ago at the UN had frittered away.
A revival is vital, especially in a world where we see so many tensions arise over matters such as Iran’s or North Korea’s nuclear weapons. Here the main point of concern is the equitable treatment of nations, and Mr Sharif did well to bring up this point strongly, stating that within a fair order Pakistan favoured disarmament. The position, of course, is a fair one. There is no reason at all why some nations should possess weapons and those of others should bring so much angst. There are moral issues attached to nuclear weapons. The same morality should apply to all.
The prime minister in his address also brought up the matter of Pakistan’s energy crisis and nuclear technology to solve it, saying that he felt the energy deficit was one of the most serious crisis facing Pakistan. We would all benefit from this but, perhaps, we also need to accept that the help we seek for this may be easier to obtain if we can put to rest concerns about terrorism. Essentially, Pakistan needs to do this so it can move out of its current state of international isolation and more convincingly persuade the world to side with it and help it tackle the range of issues it faces. This is a challenge the prime minister and his government must take up for the future.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2013.