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PRESS BRIEFING BY FOREIGN OFFICE SPOKESMAN
May 14, 1998


TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRESS BRIEFING BY THE FOREIGN OFFICE SPOKESMAN ON MAY 14, 1998

Opening Statement:

The Cabinet in a meeting held in Islamabad today i.e. 14 May 1998 made an in-depth assessment of the situation arising from the Indian nuclear tests. All aspects of national security were comprehensively reviewed.

The Cabinet reiterated Pakistanís resolve to take all necessary steps in the interest of national security which were within the countryís sovereign right for self defence. It was also decided not to yield to any unilateral, selective and discriminatory pressure from any quarter on matters pertaining to national security.

Pakistanís response to the present situation will be totally in consonance with the threat we are facing and in keeping with the requirement of our vital national security interests.

The cabinet expressed satisfaction on the defence preparedness and Pakistanís ability to respond to the dangers and challenges arising from the qualitatively changed situation in the region.

A comment:

Ever since this new situation has developed statements have been made on behalf of Pakistan. The Foreign Minister addressed the Senate twice. There have been other statements and our position has been fully expounded and explained. To that I have nothing more to add.

However, I would like to recapitulate the points that have already been made and the situation as we perceive. First of all, we have already said that we are not surprised at all by this development. We, in fact, have been focusing upon this danger. I myself have made statements from this forum drawing the attention of the world to these development which were absolutely like the writing on the wall. The surprise is that our warnings were not heeded, although we went to the extent that the Prime Minister of Pakistan himself wrote letters to the Heads of State and Government of major powers and other countries informing them of New Delhiís nefarious designs. Following is the text of the letter:

Prime Ministerís letter sent to Heads of State/Government of USA,UK,France, Russia, China, Japan, Italy, Belgium, Spain and Germany on 2nd April, 1998.

Excellency,

The recent policy pronouncement by the new Indian Government to "exercise the option to induct nuclear weapons" has qualitatively altered the security environment in our region besides dealing a serious blow to efforts at promoting non-proliferation at the global and regional levels.

This articulation in categorical terms of Indiaís desire to be regarded as a nuclear weapon state and overt nuclearization together with large Indian stockpile of weapons grade fissile material, development of ballistic missiles as well as reported possession of over one hundred atomic weapons poses an immediate and grave threat to Pakistanís security.

We have every reason to believe that the Indian policy pronouncement connotes a giant step towards fully operationalizing Indian nuclear policy.

Unfortunately, the international community has continued to disregard the series of escalatory steps taken by India during the recent years on the nuclear and ballistic ladder.

While Pakistan has exhibited a high degree of restraint and sought to promote the objective of non-proliferation in South Asia, it is now becoming evident that our diplomatic efforts have virtually run aground in the face of Indian intransigence.

Pakistan will be obliged to take cognizance of these alarming developments and it cannot but exercise its sovereign right to adopt appropriate measures to safeguard its security.

The overt nuclearization of South Asia would gravely undermine prospects of peace, progress and development for the peoples of this region. Therefore, it is important that all members of international community exercise their influence to restrain India from perusing its nuclear ambitions.

Pakistan will be prepared to initiate substantive discussions with India on the whole range of security issues including nuclear and ballistic issues, as an integral part of Pakistan-India dialogue, which we are anxious to proceed with.

We would request your Government to lend its valuable support for Pakistan-India dialogue specially on matters relating to security and non-proliferation.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.

The letter shows how Pakistan tried to focus the attention of the world on this imminent danger but our warnings were not heeded. It further shows that we had served on the international community a notice and made a clarion call but it was dismissed. So the result is quite obvious. Now the entire region has been destabilised, particularly there is a clear and persistent danger to Pakistan. Our security has been threatened. Even the smaller countries in the region are expressing concern. The non-proliferation efforts have been shattered. The non-proliferation Instruments have become irrelevant. A whole new strategic situation has arisen and it is for the world community to determine as to how they are going to deal with it. The balance of power in the region has been violently tilted. The asymmetries have been exacerbated.

How do we see Indiaís actions? How should we interpret these tests? I think there is nothing new about it. We have been speaking of and discussing all these quite consistently at different levels and different forums. This is an operationalization of Indiaís grandiose ambitions and its hegemonistic designs. It is a manifestation of its wish to be counted as a nuclear weapons state, which they have declared themselves to be.

They also wish, I believe, to ride on the nuclear weapons into the Permanent Five Club - permanent members of the Security Council. Their intentions and designs are clear. Pakistanís response to this situation will be in terms of the decision of the Cabinet, as clearly spelt out in my opening statement.