New Delhi: With Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal a matter of growing global concern, India has pressed Pakistan to enunciate its nuclear doctrine and asked it to join global efforts for concluding the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT).
At the expert-level talks in Islamabad earlier this week on nuclear Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), New Delhi politely spurned Pakistan’s proposal for bilateral cooperation on nuclear safety and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, saying it will have to wait till there is adequate trust and confidence between the two countries.
The Indian side was led at the talks on nuclear CBMs by Venkatesh Varma, joint secretary (Disarmament) in the external affairs ministry, and the Pakistani delegation was headed by Munawar Saeed Bhatti, Additional Secretary in the Pakistan’s Foreign Office.
Reliable sources said India pointed out at the meeting that it was cooperating in the area of nuclear safety at the multilateral level at the International Atomic Energy Agency, the global atomic watchdog, and suggested that New Delhi could cooperate with Islamabad also within the IAEA framework.
Voicing concern over Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, New Delhi pressed Islamabad to enunciate its nuclear doctrine, including the command and control structure of its nuclear assets, and said the declaration of the doctrine could be a major CBM.
Against the backdrop of widespread global concern about Pakistani nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists, Indian officials conveyed to their Pakistani counterparts that it was a matter of concern not only for India but for the entire international community that Pakistan was yet to publicly state its nuclear policy.
India, on the contrary, has articulated its nuclear doctrine which includes, among other key principles, credible minimum deterrence and no-first use of nuclear weapons. India also asked Pakistan to join global efforts to conclude the FMCT at the Conference on Disarmament and underlined that it could be an important step in building trust between the two countries.
Pakistan has consistently refused to participate in the FMCT negotiations. India has backed an early conclusion of negotiations on a non-discriminatory, multilateral and verifiable FMCT. In an important move, the two sides have agreed to recommend to their foreign secretaries to extend the validity of the agreement on reducing the risk from accidents relating to nuclear weapons for another five years.
The talks on conventional CBMs was led from the Indian side by Y. K. Sinha, joint secretary (Pakistan) in the external affairs ministry. Sources said the talks, held after a gap of four years, were conducted in an extremely cordial and constructive atmosphere with both sides candidly exchanging views on additional CBMs.
At the talks, the Pakistan side proposed relocation of heavy artillery along the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB), but the idea did not find favour with India. New Delhi made it clear that the proposal could be considered only if peace and tranquility was maintained along the border and ceasefire violations and infiltration stopped completely.
Sources said that there has been progress during the second round of the resumed dialogue process with Pakistan. The home secretaries, water resources secretaries, defence secretaries and other senior officials of the two countries dealing with contentious subjects like Sir Creek and Siachen would be meeting in the coming days before the talks between the foreign secretaries, who will review the issues relating to peace and security and Jammu and Kashmir.
External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna is expected to visit Islamabad around the middle of the next year to review the progress achieved in the second round of the revived dialogue process.