LONDON, June 19: President Gen Pervez Musharraf has warned the West not to allow India to develop a military superiority that would leave Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal as its “only real deterrent.”

In an interview at his hotel in London with The Times newspaper, published on Thursday, the president said “a sharp rise” in India’s defence spending, coupled with restrictions on Pakistan buying military equipment abroad, threatened to create a “dangerous” imbalance in force levels between the two rivals.

In such circumstances, he observed, Pakistan would have no choice but to rely on its nuclear weapons. “The other element of deterrence is your capability of striking and causing such damage to an enemy that is unbearable to him, and that can be done with a smaller force,” he said.

“Every country has to survive. Any country which wants to live in honour and dignity wants to preserve sovereign equality and its sovereignty. Nobody will compromise with that.”

Gen Musharraf, who had talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London on Tuesday, will have “important” talks with the United States President George W. Bush at Camp David on June 24. He intends to tell Mr Bush: “There’s an imbalance which is being created. Do not let it be created.” If restrictions on Pakistan buying military equipment could not be lifted, a similar “embargo” should be placed on India.

The president admitted that Pakistan and India came “very close” to war over the Kashmir dispute last summer.

He, however, denied that there had been any chance of the confrontation “going nuclear”, despite fears expressed in the West.

But added: “When a war starts (you do not know) what direction it will take because there are a lot of intangibles which then come in the way. No sane person in normal conditions can ever even contemplate going into a non-conventional war, but basically the best guarantee is to avoid conflict.”

WAR ON TERROR: Gen Musharraf criticised various aspects of the US-led war on terror. He suggested that the US had done too little to rebuild Afghanistan after its war to end the grip of Taliban in that country.

“Things are not going as well as one would expect in Afghanistan. There is a vacuum in the countryside of Afghanistan (and) it must be filled (by international troops) or it will be filled by those hostile to peace.”

President Musharraf also criticised Washington for waging its battle against international terrorism on too many different “fronts.”

It “bothered” him when he heard about countries such as Iran being targeted. It was important, he said, to finish the job in Afghanistan and Iraq before committing resources elsewhere, and he intended to say that to Mr Bush next week.

Asked whether America had done enough to address the grievances that terrorists exploited, he used the analogy of a tree and its roots.

“If you eliminate a number of terrorists you are just plucking leaves from a tree. If you eliminate an organisation like Al Qaeda you have chopped off a branch from the tree, but the tree still exists. You have to uproot the whole of the tree,” he said. That meant dealing with the issue which was at the heart of terrorism disease — the confrontation between Palestine and Israel, Gen Musharraf said. “What is happening around the world is the fallout from Israel-Palestine issue.”—PPI

Opinion

Editorial

The establishment pivot
18 Jan, 2022

The establishment pivot

It is a sad reality that the power matrix continues to revolve around the establishment.
18 Jan, 2022

Remittances growth

THE hefty growth in remittances from Pakistanis living abroad continues to defy forecasts to the contrary. New State...
18 Jan, 2022

China-Iran deal

THE China-Iran strategic deal that has recently taken effect is more than just a long-term bilateral agreement...
Security policy unveiled
Updated 17 Jan, 2022

Security policy unveiled

PAKISTAN’S freshly unveiled National Security Policy has broadened the traditional concept and included economic...
Bold decisions
Updated 17 Jan, 2022

Bold decisions

IT is a double blow within a matter of days. The Islamabad High Court’s order last week to demolish a navy golf...
17 Jan, 2022

Rohingya camp blaze

A HUGE blaze in a refugee camp housing members of the Rohingya community in Bangladesh last week has left up to ...