Pak to avoid talks on nukes during army chief's US visit

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Islamabad, Nov 13: Pakistan will not discuss the issue of its nuclear weapons in talks with American officials during army chief General Raheel Sharif's US visit next week and will instead point to India's "cold-start doctrine" to justify its nuclear status, a media report today said.

Gen Sharif will discuss several important issues during his trip from November 15-20, which follows Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's US visit last month.

Raheel Sharif

The Dawn quoted diplomatic sources as saying that even if the US side brought up this issue, "Pakistan will politely remind them that it was India's so-called cold-start doctrine that created the current situation".

Pakistan claims that under the cold-start military doctrine, India has built cantonments and airbases close to the border that has shortened the time for launching an offensive. "This increased Pakistan's dependence on tactical nuclear weapons to counter an Indian offensive," the Dawn reported.

It also highlighted US media reports suggesting that American officials will urge the Pakistan army chief to revise his country's nuclear policy. Pakistan rejected the suggestion from unnamed US media sources that its fears of an Indian offensive were unfounded.

"Right now, their (Indian Army's) 21st corps is busy conducting an exercise in Rajasthan to test this cold-start or pro-active strategy," said a Pakistani diplomatic source. "The nuclear issue is not a bilateral subject," said the source while explaining why Pakistan did not want to discuss the issue with the Americans. "Our nuclear programme focuses only threats from India and only India can remove the concerns that cause these threats," the source said.

"Absolutely not, not even a meeting. The focus will be on Afghanistan," he said when asked if the nuclear issue was on the agenda for Gen Sharif's meetings in Washington. Earlier, American defence officials had clarified that the Pakistan army chief would visit the US on his own as there was no official invitation either from his counterpart or the Pentagon.


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