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India massive arms build-up source of concern for region: FO

10 March, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday said India's massive arms build-up and testing of inter-continental ballistic missiles was a source of concern for the region, however, Pakistan would not indulge in the arms race.

During the weekly press briefing, Foreign Office Spokesman Nafees Zakaria said Pakistan would maintain minimum deterrence capability to safeguard its national security. He also said that the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) considering membership of India should keep this in mind that it had become one of the largest buyers of weapons.

"India's massive arms buying spree, making it one of the top arms importers in the world, was driven by its desire for regional hegemony and global power status. Pakistan, on the other hand, had been compelled to acquire and maintain a deterrent capability to ensure its national security."

He claimed that Pakistan never wanted to engage in any kind of arms race, nuclear or conventional. "We have long maintained that the two countries need to engage in a meaningful dialogue for mutual restraint measures and conflict resolution for lasting peace and stability in South Asia."

The international community had a role to play in prodding India to positively respond to Pakistan's proposal for a Strategic Restraint Regime in South Asia, he said.

Several international reports and independent observers had drawn attention to the rapid expansion in India's capability to produce fissile material for military use, which had been made possible by the 2008 NSG waiver granted to India without appropriate non-proliferation safeguards and the subsequent nuclear deals struck with different countries.

Nafees Zakaria said violation of ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) was also a source of concern for Pakistan. He said that India tried to deflect world's attention from atrocities being perpetrated by its forces in Held Kashmir by keeping the LoC issue hot. Pakistan condemned repeated instances of 'unprovoked' firing by Indian troops across the LoC and slammed the targeting of civilian population. Pakistani authorities had recorded their protest by repeatedly raising the issue of ceasefire violations with Indian officials, the FO spokesman added. India had violated the ceasefire agreement more than 1,400 times since 2013, Zakaria said. "India violated the ceasefire 400 times in 2016 alone," he added.

To a question, the spokesman said the acquittal of a Hindu radical, accused of masterminding the deadly 2007 Samjhota Express bombing, in a separate case was "regrettable".

An Indian court on Wednesday handed down a rare 'guilty' verdict to three Hindu extremists over the 2007 bombing of the Ajmer Sharif Dargah, but cleared Swami Aseemanand, the alleged mastermind of the attack.

Naba Kumar Sarkar, better known by his nickname Swami Aseemanand, the alleged ringleader behind the religiously motivated attack, was among seven Hindu extremists acquitted after prosecutors failed to prove their guilt. Aseemanand remains in prison pending trial over his role in two separate bomb attacks, one on a mosque and another on the Samjhota Express, that together killed nearly 75 people.

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