Former president Asif Ali Zardari has ruled out a nuclear war between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir issue, saying both sides wouldn’t risk using an atomic bomb as a “weapon of aggression”.
“You can develop it, you can have it, you can display a photograph of it but nuclear weapons are no joke,” Zardari said in an interview with Russia Today channel. He was responding to a question on the possibility of a nuclear clash between the two countries over Kashmir.
Zardari attributed the tensions between Pakistan and India to the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. “Look at it from the fact that how many Kashmiris are residing in Pakistan. In fact, our current prime minister is also a Kashmiri,” he said.
“It’s about time for the world to stop pointing fingers at each other and think how we can get rid of this menace.”
Zardari, who was president from 2008 to 2013, had declared in November 2008 that Pakistan would not be the first to use nuclear weapons against India. His remarks went against the Pakistani military’s policy for using nuclear weapons and Zardari was forced to change his stance later
He also said during the interview that his Pakistan People’s Party had criticised Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family after Sharif’s children were named in the Panama Papers leaks.
Sharif had joined hands with Zardari to form a coalition government after the 2008 general election but the two leaders soon fell apart.
Asked to comment about Osama bin Laden’s presence near the Pakistan Military Academy in Abbottabad, the town where the al Qaeda leader was killed in 2011, Zardari denied that bin Laden had lived just across from the military institution.
“He was living in Abbottabad city, it’s just like living in any other big city where (we) can’t just check every other house,” he said.
“We don’t have as many intelligence resources as the US; still they couldn’t catch him (bin Laden) in Afghanistan where they carried out a massive manhunt. Then how come they expected us to locate him in a place where he slipped in despite all available US intelligence?”
Talking about US drone strikes inside Pakistan, Zardari said he had repeatedly asked the US to hand over drone technology to Pakistan when he was president.
“The effect will be different if we use it instead of the US. Currently we are using F-16s to bomb terrorist hideouts, but we are short on those jets too,” he said.
“It won’t make much of a difference to the US or any other country opposing it if we are given eight or so fighter jets,” Zardari said in an apparent reference to India’s opposition to recent US plans to sell eight F-16 jets to Pakistan. The deal fell through after Congress opposed the US government’s plan to heavily subsidise the jets.