Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said Pakistan developed its nuclear programme under the country’s requirement and this position cannot be compromised.
Talking to reporters on Monday during his stopover in London on his way to a four-day official visit to the United States, the premier said the nuclear technology was meant to maintain deterrence against external aggression.
His statements come amid speculations surrounding the purpose of his US visit, with some observers pointing out the likelihood of negotiations for an Iran-like nuclear deal for Pakistan.
Premier Nawaz, however, reiterated words from his pre-departure statement, in which he had described Pakistan’s “strategic assets” being secured under a foolproof arrangement.
Asked whether the government could compromise on its nuclear assets under foreign pressure, he replied: “Who was the prime minister in 1998 when Pakistan carried out nuclear tests?” He was referring to his own decision of going ahead with nuclear tests despite severe international pressure.
He hoped his visit to the US would provide an opportunity to further upgrade Pak-US relations to a long-term enduring partnership for the benefit of the people of both countries and for promotion of peace and stability in the region.
The prime minister also said that peace in Afghanistan was inevitable for peace in the region.
To a question about the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) latest allegations of rigging in the recent by-election in Lahore, he, without referring to anyone, said such politicians needed to show political maturity. “It is politically immature to make a hue and cry about rigging every now and then,” he said, referring to Imran Khan’s frequent accusations.
Recalling PTI’s sit-in, formation of judicial commission on rigging and the government’s decision to contest the NA-122 by-election in instead of obtaining a stay order from court, Premier Nawaz said the PTI was now complaining about transferring votes.
“They should learn a lesson from this [by-poll result]. Instead, they are talking of addition or deletion of votes,” he said, urging the opposition party to set positive trends in national politics.
Recalling the Charter of Democracy he had signed with the PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto, the premier said he had inked the agreement to lay foundations of mature politics, but it was saddening the PTI had resorted to the same old-fashioned politics.
To another question, he expressed confidence his government would rid the country of power outages by 2018 – before the end of his stint.
Dispelling the impression of any foreign pressure against the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, PM Nawaz said some of its related projects had already been launched while the others would be completed timely.
He also assured overseas Pakistanis the government was striving for granting them the right to vote.
About Indian intervention in Pakistan, he said Pakistan had handed over all relevant evidence of Indian involvement in terrorism in the country to the UN.
Earlier, the prime minister was received at the airport by the British government representative Kathryn Colvin and Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK Syed Ibne Abbas. He had departed for the US on Monday morning.
According to a Foreign Office statement, the PM will visit the US from October 20 till October 23 one the invitation of US President Barack Obama. He went to the US on an official visit in October 2013 also.
The premier will hold discussions on wide-ranging subjects of bilateral interest with President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and various US cabinet members.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2015.