“There should be no fear on anyone’s part that our nuclear weapons can, at any stage, fall into the hands of extremists,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Inam-ul-Haq told HT in an exclusive interview on Saturday.
Haq, a former foreign secretary, rejected Western concerns that there was a grave threat of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists, given the continued instability in the region.
“People in positions of responsibility know very well that our nuclear weapons are in very safe hands,” the foreign minister in the caretaker government, who was here for a SAARC meeting, claimed.
“The increased instability in Afghanistan is a matter of great concern to Pakistan, particularly because as you have seen in recent months, Pakistan’s tribal areas have become somewhat unstable,” he felt.
The foreign minister had no doubts that the “back-channel” dialogue between Tariq Aziz (for Pakistan) and Satinder Lambah (for India) would continue even after a new government took office in Pakistan after the January 8 elections.
“There’s no secret about the back-channel. There is obviously some secret about the substance of discussions in the back-channel…the people involved have remained in contact with each other and I sure they will remain in contact even after the elections.”
Haq conceded that the internal situation in Pakistan could have been partially responsible for the lack of substantive progress on resolving the Jammu and Kashmir issue between the two countries.
“You can argue that the process may have slowed down, but the process has not been derailed. The internal difficulties of Pakistan could have led India to conclude that they should wait till such time that another interlocutor emerges…”
Forward movement on Kashmir was only possible if both countries showed initiative and political will. There could not be movement only from one side, particularly from the “smaller or weaker side” (Pakistan).
“The more powerful and larger country (India) has also to move towards resolution.”
Had President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh lived up to their pledge in April 2005 never to return to a state of hostility? “I think more or less, yes.”