Washington (AFP) Jul 21, 2005
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh warned Wednesday of "serious" consequences if Islamic militants grabbed power in Pakistan and took control of its nuclear weapons arsenal.
Singh, wrapping up a four-day visit to the United States, said the Al-Qaeda terror network led by Osama bin Laden had a key base in Pakistan and that there was always the risk of Islamic militants seizing power in Pakistan.
In an interview with the CNN broadcasting network, the 72-year-old Indian leader said that he was worried about the security of Pakistan's nuclear assets should President Pervez Musharraf be replaced.
"Well, the security of (nuclear) assets which are under control of Pakistan, I think does worry us. And I hope that credible solutions can be found today with that problem," Singh said.
Asked what specifically worried him about the nuclear weapons, he said, "Well, if they get into the hands of the jihadi element, that could pose a serious problem."
"I hope that this does not happen. And I pray that it will not happen."
On whether he was concerned that Islamic extremists in Pakistan could take charge, Singh said: "Well, there is always a danger.
"And we would like Pakistan to emerge as a moderate Islamic state, and we have a vested interest in the stability and progress in Pakistan."
Singh was also asked whether bin Laden and Al-Qaeda still had a "significant base" in Pakistan. "Well, I think there's no doubt about this," he said.
Both India and Pakistan have tested nuclear bombs in the past. They fought three wars since their independence in 1947 from Britain, two of them over the Himalayan state of Kashmir, which is divided between them and claimed by both in full.
Singh, who also spoke at the National Press Club in Washington, said India devised its nuclear program "because in the region that we live, we saw that there was reckless proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in our neighbourhood, which posed serious threat to our security.
"Therefore we had to take necessary preventive measures. What we have is a nuclear weapons doctrine which lays emphasis on critical minimum deterrence," he said.
Singh was referring to Pakistan, where A.Q. Khan, a national hero known as the father of Pakistan's bomb, ran a network smuggling nuclear weapons technology.
Singh also said that he might be forced to suspend peace efforts with Pakistan if it did not curb militant infiltrations into the Indian zone of divided Kashmir.
"I as the Prime Minister of a democracy cannot move ahead of Indian public opinion if acts of terrorism are not under control -- that certainly affects my ability to push forward the process of normalizing our relations with Pakistan," he said.
Singh spoke after a car bomb claimed by Islamic militants exploded in the heart of Indian Kashmir's summer capital Srinagar early Wednesday, killing four soldiers and a civilian and injuring 21 other people.
The blast came as the Indian army reported a rise in militant infiltration into the Indian controlled part of Kashmir since Himalayan snows began melting.
Singh said the backdrop for resolution of the Kashmir issue "can be easily vitiated if Pakistan's territory continues to be used to fan terrorist acts directed against our country."
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training Kashmiri guerrillas. Pakistan denies it allows rebels to be trained on its soil and insists it only provides moral and diplomatic support to militants it regards as freedom fighters engaged in a struggle for self-determination.
Some 44,000 people have died in disputed Kashmir, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan, since the launch of rebellion in the Himalayan territory in 1989. Separatists put the toll at between 80,000 and 100,000.
The nuclear-armed rivals resumed a peace dialogue last year and in April established a bus service between the two zones after a gap of nearly 60 years.
Asked whether he trusted Musharraf, Singh said, "Well, I do trust. But I think there is an old saying of (former US) President (Ronald) Reagan: Trust and verify."
"And I sincerely hope that the commitments that Pakistan has made, that the territory of Pakistan will not be allowed to be used for planning terrorist acts against India, that commitment is honored in letter and in spirit.
"And we have some worries on that score, that the infrastructure of terror is largely intact in Pakistan."
Subscribe To SpaceDaily Express
China Plays Down Warning It Could Use Nuclear Weapons Against US
Beijing (AFP) Jul 21, 2005
China on Thursday distanced itself from reported comments by a general last week that Beijing could use nuclear weapons to retaliate against the United States if it attacked over Taiwan.
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2006 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA PortalReports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additionalcopyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|