Islamabad, Nov 16 (ANI): Pakistan's pursuit of nuclear weapons was an "existential and defensive imperative" to compensate for the new imbalance of power tilted towards India, former president Pervez Musharraf has said, adding that the nation's nuclear weapons are "secure".
In Newsweek Pakistan exclusive, Musharraf said, "India's 'Smiling Buddha' nuclear tests in 1974 changed everything. Pakistan was forced to resort to unconventional means to compensate for the new imbalance of power. Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto initiated Pakistan's atomic program, and thus began the nuclearisation of the subcontinent."
"India's pursuit of nuclear weapons was an effort to project power beyond its borders; Pakistan's was an existential and defensive imperative," he added.
He recalled that when in May 1998, India again tested its bomb, Pakistan responded by "turning the mountain white" at Chaghai almost two weeks later.
"For Pakistanis, our own tests became a symbol of our power in the world, a testament to our resolve and innovation in the face of adversity, and a source of unmitigated pride in our streets. We became a nuclear power and an international pariah at the same time, but furthering and harnessing our nuclear potential remains and must remain our singular national interest," he said.
"Of course, the US views India's nuclear program differently from Pakistan's. Even our pursuit of nuclear power for civilian purposes, for electricity generation, is viewed negatively. India's pursuit is assisted by the US," Musharraf noted.
He pointed out that this is seen as yet another instance of "American partiality, even hostility" in Pakistan.
"Many even believe that the US wants to denuclearise Pakistan-by force if necessary-because it fears the weapons could come into the hands of the Taliban, Al Qaeda, or any of the myriad militant organizations who have loosed mayhem in Pakistan. Our nuclear weapons are secure," the former army chief maintained.
He also stated that the whole world is watching Pakistan, and rightly so, as it is a "happening place".
"Pakistan is at the center of geostrategic revolution and realignments. The economic, social and political aspirations of China, Afghanistan, Iran, and India turn on securing peace, prosperity, and stability in Pakistan," the APML leader observed.
"Our country can be an agent of positive change, one that creates unique economic interdependencies between central, west and south Asian countries and the Middle East through trade and energy partnerships," said Musharraf.
"Or there's the other option: the borderless militancy Pakistan is battling could take down the whole region," he warned. (ANI)