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Neighbour's envy! Pak eyes China

President Pervez Musharraf said Islamabad has its own options if US declines a similar nuke deal.

india Updated: Mar 03, 2006 14:19 IST

President Pervez Musharraf on Thursday said Washington concluded nuclear deal with New Delhi in its own interest.

Hesaid Islamabad has its own options even if Pakistan failed to get such an agreement for itself.

Pakistan is gearing up to ask President George Bush to extend the India-US civilian nuclear technology to it as well.

"Every country has certain national interests, the US has its own interests in the region vis-a-vis India, vis-a-vis China, vis-a-vis everyone. They devise their strategy according to their own interest," Musharraf said.

Musharraf was addressing a national security workshop at the National Defence College in Islamabad on Thursday.

Asked about the nuclear deal reached between President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi, Musharraf said, "as far as we are concerned, we must understand what is our interest and what interest others have in us."

"Our pure location gives us strength and unfortunately we have not realised this in the past. We must utilise that and secondly, we have our own options," he said.

The "options" he referred to were perceived to be that of Pakistan's own equations with China which has already built two nuclear power plants each capable of producing 325 MW of nuclear power at Chashma. He reportedly discussed chances of China building more such plants during his recent trip to Beijing.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has already discounted the possibility of US extending the nuclear deal to Pakistan on the grounds of concerns over nuclear proliferation.

Musharraf, who will hold talks with Bush when the US President arrives in Pakistan on Friday night, said that it was important that Pakistan for its own interest should maintain good relations which US and China.

"We maintain our relationship with the US. We should continue having relationship with the US because it is a unipolar world. We have our relationship with China as well and that relationship is strategic in nature," he said.

Pakistan, he said, is not a weak country and has its own strategic importance in the region to serve as a trade and energy corridor.

Earlier, reacting to the India-US deal, Pakistan's Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said Musharraf would discuss the options of US extending such a deal to Pakistan as well.

"We have no objection. This is a deal between India and United States," he said adding that Musharraf would take it up with Bush when the US leader arrives in Pakistan and seek its extension.

In its reaction, the Pakistan Foreign office said it was examining the details of the India-US nuclear agreement and is ready to accept all "appropriate safeguards" if the deal is extended to it.

A statement issued by the spokesperson of the Foreign Office said "the agreement represents an important relaxation of the NSG's existing guidelines and transfer of civilian nuclear technology from NSG members to non-NPT States."

"Pakistan has the same claim and expectation for international cooperation under safeguards for nuclear power generation, especially because Pakistan is a fossil fuel deficit country and has a significant and fully safeguarded nuclear power generation programme," it said.

Pakistan also has a plan to produce 8800Megawatts from nuclear power generation up to 2030, it said adding, "Pakistan's civilian nuclear power generation programme is under IAEA safeguards and we accept all appropriate safeguards for nuclear power reactor in this sector".

Earlier when India and France signed a declaration on development of nuclear energy during the visit of French President Jacques Chirac to New Delhi on February 20, Pakistan said any "concessions" being given to India would be applicable to it as well.

"Our stand is that Pakistan and India have the same status. They are nuclear weapon states and not signatories to Non Proliferation Treaty, (NPT). We do expect that any concessions and exception granted to India in the context of NSG, (Nuclear Suppliers Group) or any other multilateral a arrangement will be applicable to Pakistan also," Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam had said at that time.

Pakistan has argued nuclear proliferation indulged by disgraced Pakistan nuclear scientist AQ Khan by supplying the technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya was a thing of the past and since then it has tightened its polices by passing strict law against proliferation.

Reports said the India-US nuclear deal figured prominently in the talks Musharraf had recently in China.

First Published: Mar 03, 2006 11:23 IST