In a veiled criticism of India, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar said on Thursday that the “generous” supply of conventional and non-conventional weapons to the neighbouring country was severely straining South Asia’s strategic stability, and threatening “our national security”.

“The largest country in the region continues to be a beneficiary of nuclear exceptionalism, in violation of established non-proliferation norms and principles,” she told a high-level United Nations (UN) panel — without naming India — during a conference via video link from Islamabad.

“This country also remains a net recipient of generous supplies of advanced conventional and non-conventional weapons, technologies and platforms,” she said.

Khar’s remarks come as India has ramped up spending to modernise the military with Prime Minister Narendra Modi underlining the commitment to boost domestic production to supply forces deployed along two contentious borders with Pakistan and China.

Last month, India proposed 5.94 trillion rupees ($72.6 billion) in defence spending for the 2023-24 financial year, 13 per cent up from the previous period’s initial estimates.

Addressing the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament today — a 65-member forum established by the international community to negotiate arms control and disarmament agreements — Khar lamented that the favours being done to India were straining the security environment and heightening the risks to peace and stability in the region.

“Even as we adhere to and call for restraint and responsibility, we cannot ignore threats to our security,” she told delegates from around the world.

The minister said that a third of humanity that lives in South Asia deserves investments in sustainable peace and development, highlighting that Pakistan had a clear vision and a policy for a peaceful neighbourhood on the basis of universally agreed principles, sovereign equality and undiminished security for all States, no threat or use of force, and pacific settlement of disputes.

“We will pursue the path of peace, development and strategic stability in South Asia and beyond, I can assure you of that.”

Pakistan, Khar went on to say, regarded the Conference on Disarmament as an indispensable part of the global security architecture and the disarmament machinery.

She said that the forum’s ability to start negotiations on its agenda items remains contingent on the policy priorities of its members, their threat perceptions and their core national security concerns.

The minister proposed that the Conference on Disarmament must contribute to and promote security at international and regional levels, play its role in creating conditions that were responsive to the principle of the inalienable right to equal security by all states, and adhere to disarmament measures in an equitable and balanced manner.

Khar added that Pakistan remained committed to the goal of a nuclear weapons-free world that was achieved in a universal, verifiable and non-discriminatory manner.

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