ISLAMABAD, April 15: Foreign Minister on Tuesday warned India of massive retaliation if it tried to launch a pre-emptive strike on Pakistan, arguing that Islamabad had a more advanced missile programme than New Delhi’s.

Mian Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri described as irresponsible comments from his Indian counterpart Yashwant Sinha this month that there was a stronger case for military action against Pakistan than Iraq.

“Of course one is concerned, but I am not alarmed,” he told Reuters in an interview, when asked about Sinha’s comments.

“They are threatening nuclear war against us. My response is this: ‘Don’t make that mistake’,” he said. “Our (missile) programme is far more advanced than India’s.

“If India launches into anything stupid, they will pay a price.”

Mr Sinha said India had better grounds for staging a pre-emptive strike against Pakistan than the United States had for invading Iraq. But he later said India was not about to attack Pakistan and said his comments may have been misunderstood.

“I don’t think they become a foreign minister,” Mr Kasuri said of the comments. “Foreign ministers have to keep their language in check because their primary purpose is to lower tension. To raise the tension all you require is a wag of the tongue.

“My constituency is on the Indian border and I will get many more votes if I start speaking like Mr Sinha, but I take my job very seriously and I will not ever use such language.”

PRE-EMPTIVE DOCTRINE REJECTED: Mr Kasuri said he rejected the doctrine of pre-emptive war, but added that there was an argument to use it against India itself, saying New Delhi had rejected United Nations’ resolutions about the disputed territory of Kashmir and violated human rights in its north-east, where separatist insurgencies rage.

“I do not believe in any such doctrine,” Mr Kasuri said, “but if, for the sake of discussion, one assumes there was such a doctrine, India would be a fit case.”

“These leaders are issuing these inflammatory statements to soothe the domestic electoral agenda of the BJP,” he said. “I think it is irresponsible.”

India, he said, also seemed concerned that the West, in an effort to soothe Muslim anger after the Iraq war, might push for a resolution not only of the Palestinian question but also of the Kashmir dispute.

“One strand of my thought says it is the domestic electoral agenda,” he said. “Maybe there’s something else underlying it, that is this fear the international community may turn its attention at long last to a resolution of the Kashmir question.”

Mr Kasuri said those claims were not correct, and challenged India to accept neutral observers along the Line of Control in Kashmir, a suggestion New Delhi had repeatedly rejected.

“Why does it want to be accuser, prosecutor and judge at the same time?,” he asked. “Let them accept international monitoring along the Line of Control on both sides.”—Reuters

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