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Pakistan Will Not Rule Out Use of Nuclear Weapons - 2002-05-29

Pakistan's new ambassador to the United Nations said his country would not rule out the use of nuclear weapons if India attacked his country first.

Munir Akram, giving his first news conference as Pakistan's ambassador to the U.N. said Pakistan is responding to international pressure not to escalate tensions with India over the Kashmir conflict.

But he says if a war is thrust on his country by India, Pakistan will respond with full might.

Mr. Akram would neither confirm nor deny that Pakistan is prepared to use its nuclear missiles to attack India. "We have offered a non-aggression pact to India," he said, "and India has rejected it. If India reserves the right to use conventional weapons, how can Pakistan, a weaker power, be expected to rule out all means of deterrents?"

Ambassador Akram also says Pakistan wants India to de-escalate and de-mobilize its forces along the borders between the two nations. He said his country is ready for talks, but any process for peace must be bilateral. "Pakistan," he said, "cannot accept one-sided concessions imposed on us by the use of force or the threat of force. We are a sovereign and self-respecting country. We will very gladly accept negotiated solutions."

The new Ambassador says Pakistan wants India to give the Muslim Kashmiris the right to self-determination. And he accused the Indian military of widespread human-rights abuses in the Kashmir region.

India is demanding that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf increase efforts to halt the infiltration of Islamic militants into Indian Kashmir. India blames Pakistan-based Islamic militants for recent attacks on India's Parliament and an army camp.

Meanwhile, both the United States and Russia are making diplomatic efforts to ease tensions between the two nuclear powers.