Musharraf says Pakistan will match India arms spree
Seoul, November 7
President Pervez Musharraf vowed on Friday that Pakistan would match what he called a huge arms build-up by India that had upset the balance of forces in South Asia.
Musharraf, wrapping up a three-day state visit to South Korea, also restated his earlier denials that Pakistan had traded its nuclear weapons expertise for North Korean missile technology. The communist North says it has atomic capability.
Musharraf told a news conference that peace with his giant neighbour India was maintained by keeping a balance of forces.
"This balance of forces was tilted -- and imbalance created -- when India went for the nuclear and missile forces, and similar imbalance is being created now through massive acquisition of arms by our adversary, India," he said without elaborating.
"We will respond to this imbalance, we will rectify this imbalance in the future through all means possible," said the army general, who took power in a bloodless 1999 coup.
Musharraf said it was the threat from India that had driven Pakistan to conduct its first nuclear tests in 1998. He said Islamabad had never proliferated nuclear technology to Seoul's communist neighbour although it had bought North Korean missiles.
He said reported visits to North Korea by nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, revered by many in Pakistan as the father of the country's nuclear bomb, were connected to purchases of conventional short-range missiles.
"We have purchased these missiles from North Korea. We have also had a transfer of technology of these missiles. We now manufacture ourselves these missiles in the same organisation that Dr A Q Khan headed," he said.
"Therefore, I don't know how many times he has visited, but maybe his interaction was in this respect," Musharraf said. He said Pakistan now had no arms collaboration with North Korea.
Some media reports say Khan made a dozen trips to North Korea. A Pakistani firm Khan once headed was slapped with US sanctions last March, after Washington accused it of transferring nuclear-capable missiles from North Korea to Pakistan.
Musharraf, who held talks with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun on Thursday, said Islamabad and Seoul had signed agreements for cooperation in the oil and gas sector and in the information technology sector. He gave no figures.
Musharraf flew to Seoul from China, where he agreed a $500 million loan and won commitments to boost trade but did not sign an expected deal on nuclear power plant cooperation.