By Asghar Ali Mubarak
ISLAMABAD: Expressing concern over India acquiring a new fleet of Rafale jets, Pakistan on Thursday warned that such nuclear-capable systems could lead to an arms race in South Asia. “The transfer of advanced systems, where there is an open intention of conversion into nuclear delivery platforms, calls into question the commitment of international suppliers to non-proliferation commitments,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said here at the weekly press briefing.
The first batch of five French-made Rafale fighter jets arrived at an Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Ambala on Wednesday, following which India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted: “If anyone should be worried about or critical about this new capability … it should be those who want to threaten our territorial integrity.”
The FO spokesperson said it was disturbing to note that India continued to amass military capabilities beyond its genuine security requirement. Quoting former senior Indian officials and several international publications, she said Rafale jets were dual-capable systems that could also be modified as nuclear weapon delivery platforms.
She said India was continuously enhancing its military capability beyond genuine security requirement and asked the world community to “dissuade India from its disproportionate arms build-up.
“While remaining opposed to any arms race in South Asia, Pakistan cannot remain oblivious to these developments and remains confident of its ability to thwart any ill-considered act of aggression,” she stressed.
According to credible and reputable international research institutes, she said India was now the second largest arms importer in the world. “India has nuclearized the Indian Ocean and continues to increase the readiness of its arsenal through measures such as canisterization of missile systems,” Aisha Farooqui added. She said Pakistan had been consistently highlighting the risks of massive Indian arms build-up as well as their offensive security doctrine and force postures, which were adversely affecting strategic stability in South Asia.
“This arms build-up is being aided and abetted through a policy of exemptions, waivers and supply of advanced equipment, technology and weapons for narrow commercial interests,” she added. Farooqui said such arms transfers also violated the objectives of various export control regimes on preventing destabilizing accumulations of arms in various regions, including with outstanding conflicts and disputes. “The world is already a witness to the bellicose and irresponsible rhetoric by the BJP (Bharatia Janta Party) government in pursuit of a revisionist agenda in the neighbourhood,” she said.
On Pakistan’s part, she said, “We remain open to consideration of measures for crisis management, risk reduction, and strategic restraint.” As regards the situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), the spokesperson said Kashmiris suffered continued subjugation and brutalization on 360th day following the revoking of special status of the Valley on August 5 last year. She mentioned that the ceasefire violations on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, targeting civilian populated areas with artillery fire, heavy-caliber mortars and automatic weapons continued unabated. This year alone, India had committed 1,823 ceasefire violations to date, resulting in martyrdom of 14 civilians with 138 seriously injured, she added.She said Pakistan strongly condemned the restrictions imposed by Indian authorities on Eidul Azha prayers in the IIOJK.
“Imposition of restrictions on prayers on one of the most important days of the Islamic calendar represents complete disrespect by the Indian government for the sentiments of the Muslims of IIOJK,” she said. Indian authorities were using COVID-19 related restrictions as a pretext to curb religious freedom of the Muslims of occupied valley. “Pakistan urges the international community, the United Nations, and human rights and humanitarian organisations to take notice of glaring denial of the religious rights and freedoms of the Kashmiri people in violation of international laws and conventions,” she said.
To a question about a report by UN Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team concerning ISIL, Al-Qaida and other associated entities working against Pakistan, she said it in fact corroborated Pakistan’s longstanding position on the continued threats posed by various terrorist groups from across the border to its peace and stability.
“The findings of the report are a testament to the fact that the Pakistan’s actions against these terrorist groups have been successful. We call other countries in the region and our partners in war against terrorism to join their efforts in curbing these terrorist organizations from the region for our collective security,” she remarked. About a finding report by the Indian Minority Commission on Muslim pogrom in India, the spokesperson said it was the manifestation of increased voices being raised from within India against the treatment being meted out to the Muslims and other minorities.
Responding to another question, she said the International Court of Justice had asked Pakistan to review and reconsider the conviction and sentence of Indian spy Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav. Accordingly, Pakistan had promulgated the ordinance, under which Commander Jadhav and India were invited to file a review of the proceedings before the Islamabad High Court.
That had not been done so far. She said in order to comply with the order of ICJ, the Federation had filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court to appoint a lawyer for Commander Jadhav so that the review proceedings could be initiated.
Regarding the reports of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s schedule of inaugurating a temple on Babri Masjid site on August 5, she said it would further give rise to extremism and fascism spurred by the BJP – RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) nexus in pursuit of its Hindutva ideology. She said Prime Minister Imran Khan had also been highlighting the fact that India, under Modi, had been moving systematically with its Hindu supremacist agenda.