ISLAMABAD: PTI’s senior vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday assailed Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for speaking on the country’s missile programme on the floor of the house and demanded that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif should issue a policy statement on the matter.
Last week, Mr Dar, while speaking about the ongoing talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the Senate, had snubbed the demand for abandoning the long-range nuclear missiles programme and made it clear that nobody had any right to dictate Pakistan as to what range of missiles it can have.
Addressing a press conference, Mr Qureshi said that if it was not possible for the prime minister to give a policy statement then an in-camera session could be held to discuss the issue.
Mr Qureshi, a former foreign minister, expressed surprise as to why a deal with IMF was not being finalised despite the fact that Pakistan has fulfilled all the demands of the global lender.
“No one has the right to tell us what kind of nuclear programme we should have and missiles of which range we should have. We have our atomic arsenal South Asia-specific and to ensure our defence,” he said.
“There is national consensus over the atomic assets and we will protect them no matter which government is in power,” he emphasised.
Earlier in a hearing at the US Senate Armed Services Committee, when Centcom Commander Gen Michael E. Kurilla was asked if he was confident of Pakistan’s nuclear security procedures, he said: “I am confident (of) their nuclear security procedures.”
Senator Angus King asked the general to share his assessment of the current and “long-term prospects for stability in Pakistan”. He said: “I have a great relationship with the COAS General Munir.” He believed the concerns in Pakistan were their budget, financial situation, the current political situation, and the counterterrorism situation.
Gen Kurilla noted that “the Tricky Taliban Pakistani, the TTP,” has been “significantly increasing” its activities at the end of a recent ceasefire there.
Anwar Iqbal from Washington also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2023
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