ISLAMABAD, Dec 23: The government assured politicians on Tuesday that the country’s nuclear deterrent would be protected at all costs and no harm would come to its nuclear scientists, political sources said after a briefing by the foreign ministry.

Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali presided over the briefing given by Foreign Secretary Riaz A. Khokhar at the PM secretariat. It was attended by top leaders of political parties in the ruling coalition and representatives of the opposition Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA).

The People’s Party Parliamentarians and Pakistan Muslim League-N were also invited but they declined to attend the session at the last moment, the sources said.

They quoted Mr Jamali as expressing his deep regrets over what he saw as politicization of an issue concerning the country’s security and defence.

The politicians were informed that a “debriefing” of some scientists of Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL) by the authorities had been undertaken under international pressure built by international media, an MMA source told Dawn.

He said the main focus of the briefing was on the misgivings spread by the media about the alleged detention of senior Pakistani scientists.

Mr Khokhar explained all aspects of Pakistan’s nuclear capability, which he said was under proper command and control system.

The politicians who attended the briefing from the ruling coalition included Pakistan Muslim League-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, former president and Millat Party chief Sardar Farooq Ahmed Khan Leghari, PPP-Patriots chief and Defence Minister Rao Sikandar Iqbal, leader of the house in the Senate Wasim Sajjad, PML-Junejo chief Hamid Nasir Chattha, PML-Functional representative Abdul Razzaq Thaeem and PML-Q senator S.M. Zafar.

The MMA was represented by its deputy secretary-general Liaqat Baloch and deputy parliamentary leader in the National Assembly Hafiz Hussain Ahmed.

The foreign secretary told the politicians that two senior scientists were being debriefed under international pressure resulting from appearance of their names in baseless stories in the international media, the MMA source said.

Mr Khokhar was quoted by the source as saying that Pakistan would defend its nuclear deterrent against any international conspiracy and would take all measures for the purpose.

He reaffirmed the government’s commitment to safeguard the country’s nuclear facilities and assured the meeting that no harm would come to any of its scientists.

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