US administration has voiced concerns over Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programmes. Speaking in the US Congress, Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson assured that US has asked Pakistan to exercise restraint and avoid any developments that might lead to increased risk to nuclear safety and strategic stability.
“I wanted to say that we do share your concerns particularly about the development of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. We’re concerned most by the pace and the scope of the Pakistan’s missile program, including its pursuit of nuclear systems,” Richard Olson told the US lawmakers during a hearing on Pakistan convened by House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The US lawmakers had recently asked the American government to be tough on Islamabad as it does not seem to be sincere in improving ties with India and has accelerated the pace of arsenals’ production.
“We are concerned that a conventional conflict in Southwest Asia could escalate to include nuclear use as well as the increase security challenges…. We have had a very active dialogue at the highest levels with the Pakistanis in which we have made clear the nature of our very specific concerns,” Olson said on Wednesday replying to a question raised by Congressman Brian Higgins.
The Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard also added that the US has asked Pakistan to restrain its nuclear and missile programmes.
“As with all nuclear-capable states, we have urged Pakistan to restrain its nuclear weapons and missile development and stressed the importance of avoiding any developments that might invite increased risk to nuclear safety, security, or strategic stability,” he said adding that US is “not negotiating a 123 agreement with Pakistan”.
Earlier, during the discussions, Brian Higgins had also alleged that Pakistan is not sincere in improving its relationship with India.
“Pakistan is involved in an arms race against what it believes is its existential threat with India,” he said. “There is no positive sign of any improved relations with India because Pakistan justifies its nuclear proliferation as a deterrent against aggression from the outside. So the US has to get tougher with Pakistan. We have to call them out on this double game they have been playing, not this year, not last year, not five years but for the past 15 years,” Higgins said strongly criticising Pakistan.
The US senior lawmaker also pitched his concerns of Islamic extremists taking over Pakistan if its civil administration falls apart.
“It’s a big country, about 180 million people, it has a lot of Islamic extremists, and it has nuclear weapons. And to have Islamic extremists with nuclear weapons is a primary goal of al-Qaeda and it would be major victory for them and the outgrowth of al-Qaeda, the Islamic state and a major defeat for us, the US,” Higgins added.
(With inputs from the PTI)