Officials have denied reports that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is on course to become the third largest in the world.
As previously reported by ValueWalk, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center claim that Pakistan’s stock of nuclear weapons is on course to reach 350 warheads within 5 to 10 years. The Pakistani Foreign Office has now called the reports “utterly baseless”.
Officials claim reports are false
The two American think tanks accused Pakistan of accelerating the production of nuclear weapons, claims which Pakistani officials vehemently denied.
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“Such reports have the effect of diverting attention from the exponential increase in India’s fissile material stockpiles as a result of nuclear deals with a growing number of NSG countries and its destabilizing consequences for the region,” Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah said in a statement on Friday.
Khalilluah went on to claim that Pakistani nuclear policy was one of restraint and responsibility.
“We strictly abide by the concept of credible minimum deterrence and our nuclear program is only aimed at maintaining peace and stability in South Asia. Pakistan has no desire to engage in nuclear arms race,” Qazi emphasized.
Official claims Pakistan is a responsible nuclear power
According to him, Pakistan is responsible for proposing a number of initiatives to promote regional stability, such as the Strategic Restraint Regime, although India has not responded favorably to the proposals.
“Pakistan remains committed to the global objectives of disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation,” he added.
The report from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center claimed that Pakistan was accelerating the development of nuclear weapons because of its fear of India. Relations between the two nuclear neighbors continued to be fraught, and racked by uncertainty and saber rattling.
Pakistan is currently ahead of India in the arms race. According to analysts, Pakistan currently possesses around 120 nuclear weapons, and India has 100. The study authors estimate that Pakistan may be building 20 nuclear warheads per year.
India-Pakistan relationship remains fraught
There have been three major wars between India and Pakistan since 1947, and historical issues have not been resolved. The disputed region of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir is the scene of regular exchanges of fire which often cause injury and death among both military and civilian populations.
There were high hopes that the accession of both nations to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization would lead to a normalization of relations, but little progress has been made. Both Russia and China, which dominate the regional grouping, have expressed their desire for India and Pakistan to develop a relationship, but many differences remain.
On both sides of the border hawkish elements have a powerful influence, and nuclear saber rattling is not uncommon. India has become unsettled by Pakistan’s close relationship with China, which has led to a joint China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the sale of 8 submarines from China to Pakistan.
India is especially angry that part of the corridor runs through the disputed region of Kashmir, and resents the presence of Chinese nationals in territory that it claims for itself. Both sides suffer deep distrust of the other due to historical issues, and high-level diplomacy is needed to repair the situation.
So far Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian counterpart Narendra Modi have failed to capitalize on the momentum built by their meeting at the SCO summit in Russia, and there appears to be little prospect of normalcy.