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Indo-Pak moratorium on N-tests
Hotline between Foreign Secretaries to be established
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan gestures as he reads a statement during a press conference at Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi on Sunday.  — AFP photo

New Delhi, June 20
India and Pakistan today took a slew of never-before decisions to instil confidence between themselves to prevent misunderstandings and reduce risks of a nuclear war and vowed to observe a moratorium on conducting further nuclear tests unless national sovereignty compulsions dictate otherwise.

The Indo-Pak detente process took a giant leap forward as the nuclear armed rivals of South Asia concluded their first-ever talks on nuclear confidence building measures (CBMs) and a joint statement issued at the end of the two-day talks announced the following decisions: (i) to establish a “dedicated and secure” hotline between their Foreign Secretaries, (ii) to upgrade the existing hotline between their Directors-General of Military Operations (DGMOs) and (iii) to work towards reaching an agreement on pre-notification of flight testing of missiles.

A top source in the government told The Tribune that the nuclear CBM talks demonstrated two successes of the Manmohan Singh Government in political and diplomatic fields.


  • The existing hotline between the Director-General of Military Operations (DGMOs) to be upgraded, dedicated and secured.

  • A dedicated and secure hotline to be established between the two Foreign Secretaries.

  • Both countries to work towards concluding an agreement with technical parameters on pre-notification of flight testing of missiles, a draft of which was handed over by the Indian side.

  • Each side reaffirmed its unilateral moratorium on conducting further nuclear test explosions unless, in exercise of national sovereignty, it decides that extraordinary events have jeopardised its supreme interests.

  • Both countries would continue bilateral discussions and hold further meetings to work towards the implementation of the Lahore MoU of 1999.

  • Both countries will continue to engage in bilateral consultations on security and non-proliferation issues within the context of negotiations on these issues in multilateral fora.

Politically, it proved wrong misgivings in certain quarters that the Indo-Pak peace process would be derailed after the defeat of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the recent general elections. Today’s developments show that the peace process between the two nations was not party-specific, the source said.

Diplomatically, the joint statement tied down Pakistan to a nuclear self-restraint regime which would make it extremely difficult for Islamabad to come out with its threats to nuke India as has been its wont in the past.

However, despite this forward movement, the two countries have still to go a long way in resolving their differences in key areas like no- first- use policy.

Sources said India tried to pick Pakistani delegates’ brains on no-first-use of nuclear weapons which New Delhi has unilaterally declared as a matter of national policy even though Islamabad’s known views on the subject are diametrically opposed.

The Pakistanis countered Indian queries on no-first-use with its oft-repeated proposal of a no-war pact.

The Pakistani delegates are understood to have broached Islamabad’s well known proposal on “strategic restraint regime” and also offered to elimination of nuclear weapons by both India and Pakistan, but the Indian side rejected the idea. The Indian contention was that whereas Pakistan’s nuclear programme was self-professed India-specific, New Delhi had never said or believed its nuclear programme to be Pakistan-specific.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Masood Khan, who was part of delegation at the talks, told reporters that there has been a thaw with India but felt it was “too early” for summit level meetings.

“There is progress. There has been a thaw. There has been an understanding and movement towards dialogue and confidence-building and constructive and consistent engagement,” he said.

To a question whether India’s proposal of ‘no first use’ was discussed, he said “we will continue to meet and we will continue to discuss all issues. India says no first use. We have been saying no use of force. At one point, we talked about no war pact or non-aggression pact.

“But the spirit right now in the nuclear realm is to transcend bizarre rhetoric and do something substantive and concrete. That is the intent of the delegations that met here and that is the intent of the governments of India and Pakistan.”

Dr Sheel Kant Sharma, Additional Secretary (International Organisations, MEA), headed the Indian delegation and Mr Tariq Osman Hyder, Additional Secretary (UN and EC) led the Pakistan side.

The joint statement said the talks were held in a cordial and constructive atmosphere and that both sides agreed to report the progress of the talks to the respective Foreign Secretaries who would meet here on June 27-28.





Natwar to meet Kasuri today

New Delhi, June 20
External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh, who left for China this morning, will meet his Pakistan counterpart Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri over a working lunch in Qingdao on the margins of the Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) meeting.

This will be the first high-level political contact between India and Pakistan since the Manmohan Singh government assumed power.

The two foreign ministers are expected to review the outcome of the two-day expert-level dialogue between the two countries on nuclear confidence building measures, which concluded here today.

The two ministers are scheduled to meet again on the margins of the ASEAN Regional Forum meeting in Indonesia in the first week of July. — TNS


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