Washington: The United States has said it is sending out a clear, direct message to Pakistan to cut out “rhetoric” and be a “responsible” nuclear state, taking strong exception to the comments of some top officials in Islamabad that they will not hesitate to use such devices against India and “destroy” the country.
The comments by the US State Department, in response to a question during a briefing on Friday, came after Pakistan Defence Minister Khwaja Asif said in Islamabad that his country’s “tactical devices” were not showpieces and would be used against India if its security was threatened.
“To answer your question about some of the rhetoric from the Pakistani government and the possibility of using nukes or nuclear weapons, I would just say nuclear-capable states have a very clear responsibility to exercise restraint regarding nuclear weapons and missile capabilities,” US State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said.
“That’s my message publicly and that’s certainly our message directly to the Pakistani authorities.”
The blunt statement by Pakistan Defence Minister Asif has evoked concern within the US administration. “We have not developed devices (nuclear weapons) for as item of showpiece, if there will be a requirement, we will destroy them,” Asif told Pakistani TV channel Samaa.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also reportedly said at a cabinet meeting that his country was capable of carrying out surgical strikes in India.
Toner was also posed a question regarding US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton also voicing concern about Pakistan resorting to the nuclear mode.
Question: Today, New York Times published an article based on leaked audio of Secretary Clinton’s fundraiser in which she is heard as saying – expressing concerns about the security of Pakistani nuclear weapons, and she also talks about a nuclear suicide bomber kind of thing. Do you agree with her assessment? Do you have concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear security?
Toner: Well, I think I just attempted to speak to that concern about some of the rhetoric, as I said, we’ve seen coming out of Pakistan, regarding its nuclear weapons or – with regard to – I haven’t seen her remarks, honestly. I just haven’t seen them, so I can’t speak to them. Sorry.
The question to the State Department pertained to Clinton’s remark in February. “Pakistan is running full speed to develop tactical nukes in their continuing hostility with India,” she was quoted as saying at a party fund-raiser event in Virginia.
“But we live in fear that they’re going to have a coup, that jihadists are going to take over the government, they’re going to access to nuclear weapons, and you’ll have suicide nuclear bombers. So, this could not be a more threatening scenario.”
India on Thursday said it carried out surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir the day before, inflicting “significant casualties”. This came after the September 18 cross-border terror attack on an Indian Army camp at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir that claimed the lives of 19 soldiers.
India has blamed the Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed for the attack.
On Tuesday, New Delhi also pulled out of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (Saarc) Summit which was scheduled to be held in Islamabad in November. The summit has been postponed.