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'India is an irresponsible nuclear state,' says Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal

Updated January 14, 2018

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Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal addresses the media in Islamabad on Sunday. ─ DawnNews
Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal addresses the media in Islamabad on Sunday. ─ DawnNews

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Sunday stressed that the Indian army chief's statements on 'calling Pakistan's nuclear bluff' prove that "India is an irresponsible nuclear state".

"Nuclear weapons are not pistols or slingshots, they are weapons of mass destruction. Therefore people expect nuclear powers to behave responsibly," he said.

Iqbal's remarks come a day after the Indian Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat threatened to call Pakistan's 'nuclear bluff'.

"If we will have to really confront the Pakistanis, and a task is given to us, we are not going to say we cannot cross the border because they have nuclear weapons. We will have to call their nuclear bluff," Gen Rawat had said.

Speaking on Sunday, Iqbal raised questions over the possibility of Indian inclusion in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, given the "irresponsible" statements made.

"What do the Indian army chief and [US President Donald] Trump's statements indicate?" he asked. "That external attempts are being made to pressure Pakistan."

In the face of such attempts, it is necessary that there is internal unity, Iqbal stressed.

'Irresponsible claims'

Following the Indian army chief's press conference, Pakistan had reacted sharply, saying such statements from a man of Gen Rawat's stature were "very irresponsible" and "not befitting his office".

Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor had termed the Indian army chief's statement "irresponsible" and "unbecoming" of a four-star general who is serving as the chief of army staff.

Asked what Pakistan's response would be if India resorted to any such misadventure, Maj Gen Ghafoor said: "Should they [India] wish to test our resolve they may try and see it for themselves. We have a credible nuclear capability exclusive[ly] meant for threat[s] from [the] East."

The ISPR chief said Pakistan considers its nuclear capability to be a "weapon of deterrence" and not an option for war, according to a statement issued by the military's media wing.

He said India was unsuccessfully targeting Pakistan through sub-conventional threats and "state-sponsored terrorism" because it could not subdue Pakistan through conventional engagement following overt nuclearisation in the region.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif had said that Gen Rawat’s threat amounted "to invitation for nuclear encounter".

"If that is what they desire, they are welcome to test our resolve. The general’s doubt would swiftly be removed,"

A senior military official, meanwhile told Dawn that the statement was "unwarranted, irrational and a bluff itself".

He believed that it could possibly have been made "close to elections on [Indian PM] Modi’s tasking or to get a pay raise!"

Foreign Office Spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal in his reaction had said the "statement by the Indian army chief is representative of a sinister mindset that has taken hold of India. Pakistan has demonstrated deterrence capability."

He said the statement could not be taken lightly.

"There must not be any misadventure based on miscalculation. Pakistan is fully capable of defending itself," he added.

Gen Rawat, who had in January 2017 for the first time officially acknowledged the existence of India’s Cold Start Doctrine, in effect meant to reemphasise that the doctrine remained in place despite Pakistan developing tactical nuclear weapons to preempt its execution.

India developed and operationalised the Cold Start Doc­trine to address longstanding mobilisation dile­mma of its military force structure. Pakis­tan considers the doctrine as highly dangerous and reflective of the offensive politico-military mindset in Delhi.

India has repeatedly war­ned of surgical strikes against Pakistan and in 2016 claimed to have executed one.

Many quarters believe that the Indian military has been consistently pushing for the Cold Start Doctrine to justify its huge budget and get increases.