M A I N   N E W S

No N-worry, Musharraf in command: Pranab

New Delhi, January 4
Maintaining that it favoured a strong and stable Pakistan, India reacted to Western concerns about nuclear weapons falling into “jehadi hands” by noting that President Pervez Musharraf was in “command”.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said that he was hopeful that the people of Pakistan would be able to overcome the current crisis.

“We wish them all success in their endeavours because we believe that a strong, stable and prosperous Pakistan will be helpful to us,” he said.

Asked about concerns voiced in the Western media over the dangers of Pakistani nuclear weapons falling into ‘jehadi hands’ given the political instability in that country, Mukherjee in a carefully-worded response said, “everybody will have concerns if they (nuclear weapons) fall into wrong hands or if non-state actors have access to them. But, perhaps now President Musharraf is in command of the situation and I think he is also the civilian head of the command of the nuclear system.”

During the interaction, Mukherjee answered questions on a wide range of topics including China, Sri Lanka and the current status of the Indo-US nuclear deal.

He said if one looked at the history of Pakistan, it had gone through many difficult situations but, at the same time, it had shown there was ‘strength and resilience in the system to overcome them’.

Asked if the current situation could lead to increased violence in Jammu and Kashmir, the minister said ‘problems’ in the state were there and were not new.

“Sometimes infiltrations and terrorist activities are accelerated and decelerated. Perhaps, terrorism cannot be switched on and switched off. In many of the countries it has taken a long time to settle the issue. We are engaged in a Composite Dialogue with Pakistan. We are pinning hopes on the assurances in the Joint Statement of January 6, 2004 that Pakistan's territory will not be allowed to be used by terrorists. We are hoping that they will adhere to the commitments and that the infrastructure which are there will be destroyed,” he said. — PTI



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