Alert Sign Dear reader, online ads enable us to deliver the journalism you value. Please support us by taking a moment to turn off Adblock on

Alert Sign Dear reader, please upgrade to the latest version of IE to have a better reading experience



Your Name:

Recipient Email:

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz participate in the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue meeting at the State Department in Washington. ─AP
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz participate in the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue meeting at the State Department in Washington. ─AP

WASHINGTON: Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz urged the United States on Monday to show a greater understanding of Pakistan’s security concerns as US Sec­retary of State John Kerry asked Islamabad to consider reducing its nuclear arsenal.

The two top diplomats made these remarks at the inaugural session of the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, which both sides used also to vent their concerns on pressing issues instead of confining themselves to traditional bonhomie exchanged at such occasions.

“Nuclear safety is of obvious concern to both our countries, and I expect that we will continue to discuss the obligations of being a responsible state with nuclear weapons in the coming year,” Mr Kerry said.

He recalled that the US and Russia once had more than 50,000 atomic warheads each but they reduced those to 1,500 each and were working on further reductions.

“I think it’s important for Pakistan to really process that reality and put that front and centre in its policy. And we look forward to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s participation in the Nuclear Security Summit next month,” he said.

Pakistan argues that it will not accept any unilateral curb on its nuclear programme and that any reduction should apply to India as well and the US should also consider Pakistan’s concerns on the growing weapon disparity.

Mr Aziz, while responding to Secretary Kerry’s remarks, also referred to Pakistan’s position on this issue.

“Our engagement on non-proliferation and strategic stability will continue and Pakistan hopes to see greater US understanding of Pakistan’s security concerns and its desire to contribute actively as a mainstream nuclear power,” Mr Aziz said.

He also talked about a contentious sale of F-16 fighter jets, thanking the US for endor­sing its position that the planes would stren­gthen its ability to mount counter-terrorist operations and promote regional stability.

“We appreciate the public assessment of the US leadership in response to congressmen’s enquiries that Pakistan uses the F-16s effectively against the terrorists in the region,” he said. “The prospective sale of F-16s will strengthen Pakistan’s capabilities to successfully continue these vital operations for our mutual benefit and stability in the region.”

Mr Aziz urged the Obama administration to do more “to bring Congress fully in the picture about the positive steps taken by Pakistan to further our mutual interests and the very significant change in ground realities that has taken place in the past two-and-a-half years”.

Mr Kerry commended Pakistan’s counter-terrorism operations. “Groups like the Haqqani network or Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, all of these groups are literally stealing sovereignty of the nation. And they are stealing the future of the nation. It is important for us to stand up to them.”

“We welcome Pakistan’s commitment not to differentiate between terrorist groups... Groups like the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba seek to undermine Pakistan’s efforts to foster strong, positive relationship with its neighbours,” he said.

Instead of asking Pakistan to do more, Sec­retary Kerry said: “We recognise that every country can do more to intensify, to destroy and defeat violent radical extremists.”

Mr Aziz noted: “Regrettably there is tendency to blame Pakistan in a simplistic fashion for most of these challenges. We are blamed to be pursuing a duplicitous policy.”

He said that nothing could be “farther from truth than to hold Pakistan responsible for the Afghan imbroglio”.

“Who would like to set one’s neighbour on fire with the hope to save one’s own backyard?” he asked.

Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2016

Comments (63) Closed

Farooq Mar 01, 2016 08:19am

Arizona and Kerry have no say on India regarding nuclear reduction or anything else. India follow its own policy.

Ahmed bin Babar Mar 01, 2016 08:24am

The talks seem helpful and in the right direction...

Indian English journalism Mar 01, 2016 08:25am

Discussing such issues behind the curtains provides conducive ground for a realistic compromise. Otherwise would provide opportunity to Hawks on both sides to push hands, so as to play to The Gallery.

imtiaz syed Mar 01, 2016 08:48am

There are about 7 or 8 nuclear countries. All the countries should have the access at any time to others nuclear site. If US is ready for this we are the first to reduce our nukes. For example, any time India feels doubt, she would be eligible to search Pakistan nuclear site and vice versa. similarly Pakistan and India would be able to search that of US nuclear site. That's should be the deal. Rather it doesn't make any sense that one keep nukes while urging others to reduce it.

GHAZAL : Mar 01, 2016 08:56am

sure issue is not amount of money....

Nomi Mar 01, 2016 09:24am

At least Sartaj Aziz is talking to Kerry on equality basis. We are blessed in a way, making India an excuse gives us leverage and liberty. We refuse to global powers with an indirect No, quoting India, knowing very well that India would never scale back on its dirty bombs, keeping more bigger and stronger next door Dragon in mind. Blessing in disguise ..... Good for us...

Rustom E Hind Mar 01, 2016 09:38am

I agree when pakistn says india too should reduce/control nukes if pakistn does, make sense but there is one small issue

pakistn has one enemy as per them that is india but india has another enemy that is china, hence india cannot always satisfy Pakistan

in just simple layman words it transalate like this

pakistn has say 100 nukes india will want 200 nukes, pakistn will say india too must have just 100 but india position is china has 200 nukes so the argument from india is india has 100 nukes against pakistans 100 nukes , and another 100 nukes aganst chinas 200 nukes

only option china reduces its nukes too then win win for all of us

fas Mar 01, 2016 09:40am

hard time for Pakistan started now. make alliance with china, Russia & iran

citizen Mar 01, 2016 09:41am

Pak do not see as much appreciation/ support from US as should be, for its fight against terrorism.

PAKISTAN Mar 01, 2016 09:41am

no compromise on our national asset PERIOD!!

AW Mar 01, 2016 10:00am

Nuclear race in the subcontinent can come to an halt and the money saved can be diverted to the socio-economic well being of the people, if and when; the leadership in both India and Pakistan get committed to resolving the festering disputes between the two countries in an expedited time-frame which requires bold decisions and generous concessions, sign a no-war pact and embark collaboratively upon creating a free trade zone in South Asia along with establishment of the visa fee regimen for unrestricted people to people contact. First step for both countries is to realize that only they themselves can address the adverse situation for preservation of their mutual bright future as neighbors

M YASEEN Mar 01, 2016 10:08am

Another evidence of US neglect of Pakistan's interests and lopsided support to India.

Faisal Mar 01, 2016 10:15am

Only India is to be blamed for all Nuclear race in Sub continent, without a doubt. Even US understands.

zakir proud Indian Mar 01, 2016 10:44am

Pakistan afraid of Indias defence & nuke power while India worried about china nukes.Comparing Usa, Russia to India & pakistan is surely laughable statement from Sartaz sahab.

Desi Dimag Mar 01, 2016 10:46am

Nuclear arsenals are nothing but radicalized people are more dangerous for the region.

Farhan Mar 01, 2016 11:09am

Singapore do not have nukes and its GDP is 5 times higher than us.

Shaukat Ali Khan Mar 01, 2016 11:21am

US has very bad record of nuclear safety. It must take care of its own stockpiles first.

Reza Mar 01, 2016 12:20pm

@zakir proud Indian Read properly. It is John Kerry's statement not Sartaj Aziz.

RJM Mar 01, 2016 12:21pm

"We are blamed to be pursuing a duplicitous policy.” That you are, whether you know it or not.

adventurer Mar 01, 2016 01:23pm

Clear the back logs as Trump coming in could jeopardize the deals.

Vectra Mar 01, 2016 01:33pm

"Pakistan argues that it will not accept any unilateral curb on its nuclear programme and that any reduction should apply to India as well" Will Pakistan ask the same to China first to do it??? 1) 1st I mean India will never do unless China do and China will never do unless US itself do so it is a long messy thread which US will get involved.

rajput Mar 01, 2016 01:37pm

With India trying to achieve longer and longer range missile technology should be enough for anyone to understand that her aim is not Pakistan but she wants to make a statement to the world.

Rashid Sultan Mar 01, 2016 01:42pm

@Nomi 'talking with Kerry on equality basis' does not mean we are equal in any way to the US unfortunately. The differences are immense in literacy, education, infrastructure, social and economic development, cleanliness, discipline, political and social behaviour, size, attitudes, housing, population density and growth, liberty, judicial oversight, civil society's strength with military serving the society, scientific and technical development, ...... need I go on?

SLDUA Mar 01, 2016 02:09pm

@imtiaz syed : You are asking for the moon by expecting imperialistic USA to open its nuclear sites and weapons for inspection by Pakistan or India.

SLDUA Mar 01, 2016 02:17pm

@Nomi Until P-5 agree to reduce their nuclear arsenal(read China), India can not stop increasing the same and in turn Pakistan can not be expected to reduce its nuclear arsenal. Only way to control or reduce weapons of mass destruction is that all the big countries agree on it in a non-discriminatory manner. Otherwise, Iran or North Korea like situations will continue to arise. P-5 countries are not working honestly on such things and want to maintain status quo because they remain in dominating and controlling position at UNSC.

M. asghar Mar 01, 2016 02:30pm

The reciprocity of mutual inspection of the nuclear sites of different countries concerned has to be the basis for any agreement otherwise there will be nothing to stand on.

lafanga Mar 01, 2016 02:52pm

India is not irked by Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. They know that Pakistan will not use them as offensive weapon against India. They are ONLY irked by Pakistan's tactical nuclear weapons which renders Indian conventional weapons useless in a limited war. Why would India be irked? Because India is spending billions to build up it's conventional arsenal against Pakistan and all the billions can go up in smoke in a war against tactical nuclear weapons.

This is why India is pleading with US to force Pakistan to curb it's tactical nuclear weapons which from Pakistan's side would be akin to committing suicide.

sri1 Mar 01, 2016 03:01pm

@Nomi "Sartaj Aziz is talking to Kerry on equality basis. We are blessed in a way, making India an excuse gives us leverage and liberty"

But there is a limit to that, don't you think? The world that stopped bracketing India and China since the nineties, are now enthusiastically re-bracketing India and China looking at the trajectories of both nations.

rapipur Mar 01, 2016 03:02pm

all that is said above is ridiculous how about all countries get rid of all their nuclear weapons are the nuclear weapons there for any good? if the excuse is to protect yourself, well if you get rid of all nuclear weapons.. thats the best way to protect ourselves, is it not?

Shakti Mar 01, 2016 03:03pm

Good job John Kerry !!

Mustafa R. Mar 01, 2016 03:14pm


'Singapore do not have nukes and its GDP is 5 times higher than us.'

Bangladesh also doesn't have nuclear weapons and their GDP is lower than us.

Mustafa R. Mar 01, 2016 03:19pm


'India is not irked by Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. They know that Pakistan will not use them as offensive weapon against India. '

India is irked by our defensive weapons too, they prevent India from using it's offensive weapons.

Muhammed Ali UK Mar 01, 2016 03:32pm

The US wants us to fight terrorism yet they do not really want us to be able to ward of India and their threat to us, if we did not have the bomb India would have overrun us decades ago, i am not a fan of NS by any stretch of the imagination but credit where it is due 1999 and his actions has proved to be the line India knows it must not stop, then kudos to Musharraf whom told India in no uncertain terms that these are not for decoration and will be used if needed, is that so hard for the US to understand??

Usman Mar 01, 2016 03:35pm

US should strive to make South Asia nuclear free. It should start from its biggest trade ally. India has huge stock pile of conventional weapons. Pakistan is much smaller and weaker nation.

RA Mar 01, 2016 03:36pm

@PAKISTAN First it is important to define what are the assets of a nation, is it its people or the bomb, and then spend accordingly.

Waseem Mar 01, 2016 03:46pm

@Rustom E Hind In response to your long speech, India always refused to be a part of any restraint regime in the region. Last agreement was exchange of nuclear sites agreement, and to inform ballistic missile tests in mid 90. 20 lost years are regrettable, and there is no possible excuse for that.

Azad Mar 01, 2016 04:20pm

@Vectra Agreed. But things are not that simple as you and me think they are!

sukhera Mar 01, 2016 04:42pm

Its true that both US and Russia had 50, 000 atomic bombs each during the cold war. They have mutually agreed to reduce the weapons to 1500 war heads each. Mr. Kerry also knows that 1500 weapons are more destructive than the older versions and wipe out each country many times over.US is planning to modernize their 50 years old missile system. I am sure Russia will follow suit. Any reductions in nuclear weapons have to be mutually agreed by both India and Pakistan. We can't reduce the number of weapons unilaterally to please another party. Our weapon delivery system and the number of weapons serve as deterrent to any misadventure.

Shahid Mar 01, 2016 05:09pm

USA never intend to solve problems in a logical way, they just like to bully every one. They have diplomatic power, leverage and strategic advantage to promote a just solution to India Pakistan issues. Had they done that, it would have been much easier for them to ask Pakistan to accept cuts on its nuclear arsenal.

Shakil Ahmed Khan Mar 01, 2016 05:10pm

@Farhan Singapore is one city and it doesnt have a hostile neighbour ! no where in the world nukes are linked to growth rate of a country! India and China both has nukes and bother are top growth rate countries.

Zak Mar 01, 2016 05:12pm

"He recalled that the US and Russia once had more than 50,000 atomic warheads each but they reduced those to 1,500 each".

Mr Kerry, you were able to do this because, Pakistan succesfully fought the same Soviet Union and helped you become the sole super power. Besides both of you had parity in size and strenght. Pakistan is a smaller nation , constantly being threatened by a larger nation. Yet you ask only Pakistan to reduce its 'deterrence '. Advise to your government, actively get involved in resolving kashmir as per UN resolution and you will never have to worry about nukes anymore in this region.

Shakil Ahmed Khan Mar 01, 2016 05:14pm

Only way for Pakistan is to improve its economy and world will start to listen, thats the only way until then we can and will keep strategic assets and objectives as we have done in the past. Weakest link for Pakistan is its economy and poor governance. address these, rest will resolve itself!

M. Siddique Mar 01, 2016 05:20pm

Both countries should work hand in hand to upgrade their relationship. There is lot of room for the convergence of their national interests. Pakistani leadership needs to make sure the national interests are supreme and must stand for those.

M. Siddique Mar 01, 2016 05:24pm

@fas, Alliance with India? Friendhip yes but for alliance India has to act like a responsible nation

PAKISTAN Mar 01, 2016 05:31pm

@RA both are national asset but in order to protect "the people" we need THE BOMB as far as the welfare of people is concerned that's the job of civil gov which is elected by "the people" itself ......we are the only Muslim nation which can defend itself from foreign aggression ....had Iraq or Syria contained THE BOMB they wouldn't be in such a turmoil and "their people" wouldn't be taking deadly paths to safer countries who do no welcome them

Rajan Singh Mar 01, 2016 05:51pm

Why India? India has many strategic's not only Pak but the real threat is China...Pak has to understand this point.

akash Mar 01, 2016 05:52pm

He specifically mentioned JeM and LeT. Do more?

Aslam Mar 01, 2016 05:57pm

Apparently, there are differences but the leadership will resolve through bilateral dialogue. Pakistan and the U.S. are important for each other and they have better understanding on sensitive issues.

probono Publico Mar 01, 2016 06:15pm

Sartaj Aziz correctly pointed out to Secretary Kerry that US needs to do more and be a bridge between Pakistan and India.

PRADEEP Mar 01, 2016 06:15pm

while India signed 'No First Use Policy' what stops Pakistan to do that?

Maqsood Ahmed Soomro Mar 01, 2016 06:26pm

Finally they find some common ground - But yes this strategic dialogue will pave the way to a much broader consensus to many issues. Pak - US relationship is on the verge of an important pivot, A pivot to progression.

XPakistani Mar 01, 2016 07:29pm

If the US is sincere then it should focus on the core issue of Kashmir between India and Pakistan. The nuclear issue will automatically disappear, if that is accomplished. Pakistan can then consider keeping a token nuclear deterrence and not aim at raising the bar.

Zak Mar 01, 2016 09:01pm

@PRADEEP the larger conventional force which is 90% lined up against Pakistan only, not China, Mayanmar or Bangladesh.

Zak Mar 01, 2016 09:03pm

@AW pakistan has realised it, kashmir has realised, UN, US, EU has recognised it- only India has realised it but does not want to.

Zak Mar 01, 2016 09:04pm

@RA first the country , then to protect the people in it.

Ali Mar 01, 2016 09:11pm

The US Secretary of State John Kerry is correct that nuclear weapons should be curbed, just as the US and Russia did, but that should apply to both Pakistan and India equally. India betrayed world's trust when it exploded a nuclear device in 1974. Pakistan was left with no option but to counter this threat by developing its own nuclear weapons.

India shocked the world again when it conducted nuclear explosions, Pakistan was forced to match it. Yet, President Bush gave a nuclear deal to India which was discriminatory. India and Pakistan have acquired Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) capability, any war would annihilate both countries. The US should treat both equally to curb nuclear weapons and to sign the NPT for regional and world peace.

Syed Hussain Akbari Mar 01, 2016 10:00pm

@fas It is the most appropriate proposal. A joint block of Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan is the right solution.

ahsan7979 Mar 01, 2016 10:12pm

@Farhan Pakistans GDP is double that of Singapore 884 billion vs 454 billion in terms of Purchasing Power Parity as per IMF. Just FYI.

Abbas Naqvi Mar 01, 2016 10:31pm

Yes, the US needs to understand Pakistan's security concerns before asking Islamabad to reduce its nuclear arsenal. Pakistan is committed to nuclear non-proliferation and is maintaining minimum nuclear deterrence to safeguard its national security and strategic interests. While the US-Pak strategic dialogue is going on in Washington, Secretary Kerry besides reviewing ways for enhancing cooperation between the two countries should have recognized and appreciated Islamabad's success in fight against terrorism and its efforts to establish peace in the region. Being a responsible nuclear nation, Pakistan is fully aware of its international obligations.

Syed Ahmed, Canada Mar 01, 2016 10:44pm

US Sec­retary of State John Kerry asked Islamabad to consider reducing its nuclear arsenal. At the same time he stated that the US and Russia once had more than 50,000 atomic warheads each but they reduced those to 1,500 each and were working on further reductions. What prevents Mr. John Kerry in applying similar curb on India’s nuclear programme? According to a new report nine nations, Russia (8500), United States (7700), France (300), China (250), United Kingdom (225), India (110), Pakistan (130), Israel (80) and North Korea (15) possess nuclear weapons. The first four are the world leaders. Let’s bury the hatchet. All roll back their nuclear arsenal and make the world a safe place to live.

GAK Wazir Mar 01, 2016 10:52pm

Any unilateral reduction of nukes will be unacceptable for Pakistan. India does so, then Pakistan will think and review its nuclear arsenal. The US must exert pressure on India to comply with CTBT in order to promote peace and stability in the region. Kerry's suggestion to Aziz can be vocal if Washington plays its effective role to resolve the festering Kashmir imbroglio causing escalation between Pakistan and India. Until Kashmir problem is settled peacefully tension will continue to persist and there seems no chance of de-escalation in the South Asian region.

Gul Ramani Mar 02, 2016 01:53pm

Reducing its nuclear arsenal presupposes that the extent of it is known. Do we know how many nuclear bombs Pakistan or for that matter USA has? Why are they kept top secret when the World would be the sufferers if they ever go off? Is independent verification, by the concerned UN body, for all the Nations such a bad idea and should it be not discussed at NSS?

Ahmed Raza Mar 02, 2016 03:29pm

United States behavior on nuclear issue is discriminatory despite the fact that Indian military strategies and nuclear program pose a major threat to Pakistan’s sovereignty. Besides Indian firms and government owned agencies are majorly contributing in spread of global terrorism which is also destabilizing the South Asian region. So instead of asking Pakistan, it must ask India to curb its activities and nukes.