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ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi has said that Pakistan wants peace and stability in all the countries of the region and will not join nuclear arms race.

He was speaking at the inaugural session of a two-day International Conference titled ‘The Global Non-proliferation Regime: Challenges and Responses’ organised by a think tank the Strategic Studies Institute Islamabad (SSII) at local hotel.

The conference brought together scholars from Pakistan and other countries, including China, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Iran and Egypt, to deliberate upon the current nuclear non-proliferation issues and to highlight the proactive role Pakistan can play in order to generate new ideas on the subject.

“Our nuclear weapons are only for defence rather than aggression. We also support the nuclear non-proliferation but the unresolved Kashmir dispute poses great threat to regional stability. The United Nations should play its role to resolve the Kashmir dispute in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions,” Dr Alvi said.

Says Islamabad supports nuclear non-proliferation, but Kashmir issue poses great threat to regional stability

“It is a fact that our neighbouring country’s nuclear tests became a hurdle in making the region free of nuclear weapons. We need to take collective steps to tackle the threats to international peace,” he said.

He said that Pakistan’s nuclear programme was compliant to the rules of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Pakistan was the most vulnerable country to the climate change and use of atomic energy can reduce the environmental solution, he added.

The president pointed out that discriminatory exemptions by certain countries for the supply of nuclear technology and supply of advanced military hardware to “our eastern neighbour has further complicated regional security and undermined the credibility of the non-proliferation regime”.

He warned that the introduction of the Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system and provocative war fighting strategies like Cold Start Doctrine are affecting strategic stability in South Asia.

Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari said “Pakistan would not join the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons or the Ban Treaty as long as India does not join it”.

She said that India’s BMD system, development of sea-launched capabilities, and US support for India’s nuclear suppliers group (NSG) membership continue to undermine strategic stability in South Asia.

Dr Mazari said that there are problems with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, indicating that those who need to implement it are violating it. The “US and other signatories have violated Article 1 and 2 of NPT by signing new deals with India. With this attitude, countries outside the NPT cannot join it,” she said.

She said that no one talks about Israel’s nuclear programme and suggested to start discussion on that for any progress on non-proliferation.

Head of Department, School of Integrated Social Sciences, University of Lahore, Rabia Akhter talked about the evolving US nuclear posture.

She said that the US Nuclear Posture Review was as aggressive as President Trump himself.

Reiterating the need for collective approach towards non-proliferation regime, Executive Director, British American Security Information Council Paul Ingram said that the Treaty on Prohibitions of Nuclear Weapons can be transformed from a source of disagreement to cooperation if the nuclear weapons states view the treaty as an opportunity.

While indicating challenges towards the non-proliferation regime, he called technological advancements the biggest enemy of the non proliferation regime.

Retired ambassador Ayesha Riyaz said: “Impatience and arm-twisting would not give the right outcome, rather consensus among the members would be the right way to move forward on the issue.”

SSII’s Director General Amina Afzal stressed that Pakistan had come a long way since 2004 when it began addressing weaknesses in its export control legislations in the aftermath of UN Security Council resolution 1540 and evolved a system that would enable it to ensure its non-proliferation commitments and at the same time help it access dual-use technologies for its legitimate socio-economic development needs.

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2018