Wednesday, Dec 04, 2002
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By B. Muralidhar Reddy
Mr. Khokhar was reacting to the comments made by Mr. Putin in his interview to The Hindu and NDTV expressing concern about the possibility of Pakistan nuclear assets falling into hands of bandits and extremists.
The Pakistan Foreign Secretary told BBC Radio that Mr. Putin's assessment was absolutely wrong and it should be in his knowledge that since Pakistan has become a nuclear power, it has maintained a very strict command and control system for its nuclear programme.
``We know well that we have to care for our nuclear assets and there is absolutely no chance of these weapons going into the hands of wrong people. That is why his statement has shocked us to some extent,'' he said. Otherwise, we have cordial ties with Russia which it is a very big country, Mr. Khokar is quoted as saying.
He said Pakistan had good relations with Russia and was trying to improve them further. Now a senior Pakistani official was visiting Moscow and he would hold talks with the Russian officials over the issues of terrorism and bilateral relations between the two countries.
The reference of Mr. Khokar is to the Pak.-Russia Joint Working Group on combating terrorism currently being held in Moscow.
In response to a question if Pakistan felt threatened over the growing Indo-Russian ties, Mr. Khokar replied in the negative. He said they had close ties since long and it posed no danger for Pakistan.
Pakistan has accused India of attempting to `scuttle' the proposed SAARC summit here in the second week of January and urged India to take a clear stand on attending the summit if it had any reservations, rather than raise `red herrings'.
A spokesman of the Pakistan Foreign Office was responding to the observations made by the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, in Shimla on Sunday that he could consider travelling to Islamabad to attend the SAARC summit only if Pakistan completely stopped `cross border terrorism'.
``If the Indian Government had reservations about attending the SAARC summit in Islamabad, it should say so clearly rather than raising red herrings every now and then. It is now quite evident that India is engaged in an effort to scuttle the SAARC summit, the spokesman said.
In a separate statement, the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman described the reported statement of the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, daring Pakistan for a fourth war as "bizarre" specially at a time when both countries were busy withdrawing their troops from their borders.
``We ask the international community to take note of anti-Pakistani and threatening statements emanating from the Indian leadership,'' the spokesman said in a statement.
He maintained that Mr. Advani's latest sabre rattling is all the more regrettable as it represented a "crude attempt to play the communal card" in the coming elections in the Indian State of Gujarat.
Pakistan would like to assure Mr. Advani that Pakistan had the ability to defend itself and that it was not impressed by "rhetoric and strident" statements.
"The Government of Pakistan also finds most reprehensible the attempts being made by the BJP to drag the person of the President of Pakistan in the Gujarat election campaign.
These attempts only show the desperation of the BJP and its unprincipled politics.''
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