M A I N   N E W S

Pak Gen offered N-help to Nigeria
Islamabad calls it rubbish
K.J.M. Varma

Islamabad, March 4
Amid Nigerian Defence Ministry’s claim that a top Pakistani General offered to help the African state “strengthen its military capability and acquire nuclear power”, Islamabad today rejected it as an “unadulterated rubbish.”

“This is such an unadulterated rubbish. For a Pakistani General who is travelling these days to offer nuclear help,” Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri said addressing a joint press conference with visiting British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw here.

Kasuri was reacting to Nigerian Defence Ministry’s statement claiming that Pakistan’s Chairman of the Joint Services Committee, General Muhammad Aziz Khan, who visited Nigeria this week, said Pakistan “is working out the dynamics of how they can assist Nigeria’s armed forces to strengthen its military capability and to acquire nuclear power.”

“This tells you sometimes how media picks up stories. I do not know what to say. Why would Pakistan do this,” Kasuri said, adding if Pakistan wants Abuja’s help to regain the Commonwealth membership, there were other ways to go about it.

“Surely there are other ways. We do not have to seek support of this nature.”

Pakistan was currently lobbying hard to get readmission into the Commonwealth.

Kasuri said it was not in the interest of Pakistan to offer nuclear technology, that too when it faced so many problems on the nuclear front.

“We are absolutely shocked that some wire services carried this story. After all the stories regarding nuclear proliferation, how can a Pakistani General be offering this to Nigeria yesterday. I cannot understand,” Kasuri said.

Straw, who was sitting by his side, jocularly commented that nuclear technology did not appear to be on the priority list of Nigeria when he was there recently.

“When I was in Nigeria during Christmas, it did not seem to be on top of their agenda. They have lot of oil reserves, though,” he said in the lighter vein.

Gen Aziz was third in the hierarchy of Pakistan Army after President Pervez Musharraf, who is the Chief of Army, and Gen Younus Khan, Vice Chief of Army.

The Nigerian Defence Ministry statement comes at a time when Pakistan is battling hard to wriggle out of international spotlight on its nuclear programme after the recent admission by top scientist A.Q. Khan that he transferred nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea. — PTI

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