Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry denied allegations that his country could sell a nuclear weapon to Saudi Arabia, reports Daily Times.
He described the claims as “unfounded, baseless and untrue” after he met with U.S. officials at the White House, Pentagon, and State Department last Thursday.
“Pakistan’s nuclear program has nothing to do with any other country,” the foreign secretary told reporters after the meetings. “This is a deterrence that we developed in response to a threat perception that we have from our east. That’s it.”
“Pakistan is not talking to Saudi Arabia on nuclear issues, period,” he insisted.
Chaudhry’s reference to the “threat perception” from the East is a clear reference to Pakistan’s long-time rival and fellow nuclear power India, notes Daily Times.
“Pakistan detonated its first nuclear weapons in 1998, shortly after India did,” adds the article.
Chaudhry visited the American capital to participate in a strategic dialogue and meetings with several U.S. diplomatic and military officials.
According to the State Department, the agenda included “international efforts to enhance nuclear security” in addition to non-proliferation and export controls.
The discussions were “productive,” said the State Department, adding that the U.S. and Pakistan governments would work towards preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Pakistan’s foreign secretary, speaking at a June 4 event sponsored by the Atlantic Council, said Pakistan and the United States have a mutual interest in fighting terrorism and coordinating to stop extremism promoted by the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).
He added that a stable Afghanistan, which borders Pakistan, was also in the best interest of both countries. Last year, the Pentagon accused Pakistan of providing sanctuary to terrorists fighting U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Nevertheless, Chaudhry described the United States “as a critical partner and said there were strong and enduring bases for this partnership to continue in the future,” notes Daily Times.
“Referring to the ongoing military operations in the tribal areas against extremists, he said that the operation has entered a critical phase since last year,” states the article. “The Operation Zarb-e-Azb, he added, was aimed at clearing all territory in Pakistan from elements that aim to terrorize Pakistan or its neighbors.”
The foreign secretary thanked the U.S. for its support in various areas, including in enhancing the Pakistani military’s capacity.
“Our latest operations in North Waziristan and Khyber agencies have been a big success and nearly 90% of the areas have been cleared,” said Chaudhry during the Atlantic Council event, noting “that the core of infamous TTP [Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan] has been dismantled with its leadership on the run in Afghanistan.”