Today's Paper

India-U.S. deal disturbing, says Musharraf

B. Muralidhar Reddy

It will upset the balance of power

Pakistan's nuclear arsenals in safe handsPakistan too needs to boost its energy potentialU.S. decision will encourage other nations to follow suit

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said the civilian nuclear cooperation pact between the United States and India will upset the `balance of power' in the region.

Addressing jawans at Bhawalpur in the Punjab province on Friday, Gen. Musharraf termed the deal "disturbing to Pakistan." He maintained that Pakistan's nuclear arsenals were in safe hands and there was no need to worry about them.

Ever since New Delhi and Washington forged the nuclear deal in July last, Pakistan has been seeking a similar package on the ground that it is also a nuclear power like India and needs to boost its energy potential to take care of future needs.

Orchestrated campaign

It is for the first time that Pakistan has raised questions on the possible `ill-effects' of the India-U.S. deal on the region.

In an orchestrated campaign on Friday, Gen. Musharraf, Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri and the Foreign Office raised questions on the deal. Obviously the move is intended to influence the U.S. Congress, whose approval of the deal the Bush Administration has sought.

The Financial Times quoted the Foreign Minister as saying the U.S. decision to give nuclear technology to India would encourage other nations to follow suit.

"The whole Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty will unravel. It is only a matter of time before other countries will act in the same way," Mr. Kasuri told the daily in an interview.

"Nuclear weapons are the currency of power and many countries would like to use it. Once this goes through, the NPT will be finished. It is not just Iran and North Korea. Brazil, Argentina and Pakistan will think differently," he said.

Edge for armed forces

On Saturday Gen. Musharraf said the Government was taking all possible measures to provide state-of-the-art weapons and equipment to the armed forces to maintain a qualitative edge.

Addressing Army officers at the Bhawalpur Garrison, he lauded the role of the armed forces, particularly the Army, for combating terrorism and the relief work they were carrying out in earthquake-hit areas.

He said the armed forces had proved their mettle working as peacekeepers under the U.N. banner.