Musharraf rules out accidental N-war with India

The Times of India

PTI [ FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2003 01:39:13 PM ]

ISLAMABAD: President Pervez Musharraf has played down fears of an accidental Indo-Pak nuclear war, saying Pakistan's missiles were not nuclear-tipped and were kept geographically apart under the nuclear command he headed with Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali.

"This is not Warsaw Pact vs Nato situation where warheads and missiles were ready for fire with a button in a hand. There is no button in our case. Missiles and warheads are not permitted together. There is a geographical separation between them," Musharraf said in an interview to Pakistan Observer.

"One has to go up the escalation ladder to come to the stage of pressing of the button," Musharraf said, adding that no individual has been authorised to press the button.

There is a National Command and Control Authority responsible for development and deployment of all nuclear and strategic weapons, jointly headed by him and Jamali.

On reports that Pakistan's nuclear assets could fall into wrong hands, Musharraf said there were custodial controls and command arrangements that had been put in place long before India did. "Let me assure you that there is no question of any breach (of the nuclear command)," the President said.

Over prospects of escalation of tension due to Pakistan's induction of Ghauri missiles into Army and Indian test-firing of Agni missile, Musharraf refused to accept elements of reciprocation and complementarity in the actions.

The two countries are taking actions according to their own requirements. There is no reciprocation involved, he said.

"As a matter of fact it was India which inducted missiles into their Army first. Pakistan has produced a number of missiles and it was our requirement to induct them into service," he said.

Musharraf also criticised Defence Minister George Fernandes's statement that Pakistan would be wiped out if India was attacked with nuclear weapons.

"I don't take such irresponsible statements as a threat to Pakistan," he said, adding that Pakistan has a deterrence in place to take care of any aggression.

Musharraf said that despite his "countless peace efforts", India has termed him as "number one enemy". "It is pretty surprising," he said.

Whether he would pursue a policy of restraint even if India imposed war on Pakistan, Musharraf said there is no need not be emotional about the war threats. "We need to be more mature and balanced than India. These are all irresponsible statements, which must be checked," he said.

He condemned recent reports linking Pakistan with the North Korean nuclear programme, calling them "malicious media propaganda."

"There is a smear campaign unleashed by vested lobbies in the media. We are very clear in our minds that there is nothing wrong what we have done. We have not violated any regime and our guarantees for non-proliferation stands unaltered," he claimed, adding that he has given "400 per cent" assurance that nothing of the sort reported ever happened between Pakistan and North Korea.

"All that I would like to reiterate that there is no question of proliferation by Pakistan which could have occurred in the past and can occur in future," he said.

Pakistan is a "responsible nuclear power" and fully understood its international obligations, and strictly adheres to the moratorium it announced on further testing, he said.