• Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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No compromise on Pakistan nuclear, missiles programme, says crisis-torn country’s finance minister

(FILES) A Pakistani surface-to-air “Hattaf” missile passes by a huge portrait of the country’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah. (Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP FILES/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

Pakistan will not compromise on its nuclear and missile programmes no matter what, the country’s finance minister Ishaq Dar on Thursday (16) said while responding in the senate.

According to Pakistani daily Dawn, Dar said while responding to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) senator Raza Rabbani in the chamber, “Let me assure you that […] nobody is going to compromise anything on the nuclear or the missile programme of Pakistan — no way.” He said this to allay fears that Pakistan’s nuclear programme is being put under pressure in lieu of the external economic aid which it badly needs at this hour.

Rabbani had raised questions over the delay in Pakistan’s agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and doubted whether it was because of some pressure being exerted on Islamabad over its nuclear programme. The lawmaker termed the delay “absolutely out of the ordinary — extraordinary”.

He also alleged that the senate had “neither before nor today been taken into confidence on what are the conditionalities of the IMF”.

Responding to his query, Dar said there was no compromise on Pakistan’s nuclear prowess and assured the “moment the staff-level agreement and the EFFP (Extended Fund Facility programme) would be finalised […] it will be put up on the website of the finance ministry”, the Dawn report added.

“Nobody has any right to tell Pakistan that what range of missiles it can have and what nuclear weapons it can have. We have to have our own deterrence,” Dar was quoted as saying.

“We represent the people of Pakistan […] and we have to guard our national interests”.

Pakistan’s current government is an unwieldy multi-party coalition led by prime minister Shehbaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N). The PPP is also a part of the coalition.

Explaining the delay, Dar said it was “not on the part of the government”.

Indirectly blaming the previous Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government led by former prime minister Imran Khan which signed the agreement in 2019, the finance minister said it seemed the arrangements of 2019 with the IMF has been a different and (a) a new programme.

Speaking on Pakistan’s nuclear programme, prime minister Sharif said it was being “jealously guarded by the state”, the Dawn report added.

A statement issued by the Pakistani prime minister’s office (PMO) later on Thursday said press releases, queries and various assertions about Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programme were being circulated on social and print media.

It said that even a “traditional routine visit” of Rafael Mariano Gross, director general, International Atomic Energy Agency, was also portrayed in a “negative spotlight”.

“It is emphasised that Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programme is a national asset, which is jealously guarded by the state. The complete programme is totally secure, foolproof and under no stress or pressure whatsoever,” the PMO’s statement said, according to Dawn.

“It continues to fully serve the purpose for which this capability was developed,” it added.

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