India, Pakistan exchange lists of nuclear installations
India and Pakistan on Tuesday exchanged lists of installations covered under an agreement against attacks on nuclear facilities and lists of prisoners held in each other’s jails against the backdrop of a downturn in bilateral relations.
The lists of nuclear installations and facilities were exchanged simultaneously through diplomatic channels in New Delhi and Islamabad under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear installations that was signed in December 1988 and came into force in January 1991, statements issued by external affairs ministry and Pakistan’s Foreign Office said.
The pact states the two countries must inform each other of nuclear facilities to be covered under the agreement on January 1 every year. This was the 28th consecutive exchange of the lists since January 1992.
New Delhi called off a planned meeting of the foreign ministers of the two countries on the margins of the UN General Assembly last September due to terrorism-related concerns. People familiar with developments recently ruled out any major initiative on ties with Pakistan until after India’s general elections.
Brahma Chellaney, a leading strategic analyst, described the exchange of lists of nuclear facilities as a “symbolic annual action”.
“Both sides are going through the motions but the Pakistani side doesn’t declare all its facilities, including clandestine facilities created with Chinese assistance. This has been a concern for India,” he said. “In terms of military utility and a confidence-building measure, it is symbolic.”
The two countries exchanged lists of civilian prisoners and fishermen in their custody in line with the Consular Access Agreement of May 2008, which requires both to hand over such lists on January 1 and July 1 every year.
The Pakistani side handed over a list of 537 prisoners — 54 civilians and 483 fishermen — in its jails, said a statement from the ministry. India handed over a list of 249 Pakistani civilian prisoners and 98 fishermen in its custody.