Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Members,
We are all aware that India conducted three nuclear tests yesterday. Unlike some of our friends abroad, we are neither shocked nor surprised by the Indian action.
Exactly 24 years ago when India conducted its first nuclear test at the same Pokhran site, we were also not surprised.
For a decade, we had repeatedly warned the United Nations, especially the nuclear weapons states, that India's nuclear programme was military in nature.
In a duplicitous statement in May 1974, the then Indian Foreign Minister had said, and I quote: "This experiment is an important landmark in the development of nuclear technology for peaceful and economic uses. We have no intention of developing nuclear weapons."
The Indian Foreign Minister went on to add, "It is singularly unfortunate that the peaceful nature of this nuclear explosion of ours should be misconstrued and misread in Pakistan. Apprehensions aroused in Pakistan are unfounded."
The Chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission had an even more bizarre explanation and I quote, "As part of the programme of study of peaceful uses of nuclear explosion, the Government of India had undertaken a programme to keep itself abreast of developments in this technology, particularly with reference to its use in the field of mining and earth-moving operations."
Mr. Chairman, Honourable Members of the Senate,
I have already stated that the three tests India carried out yesterday have neither shocked nor surprised us. But there is an important difference. Today in 1998 there is no reference to a peaceful programme. All lame excuses such as mining and earth-moving operations are deleted.
India has stated very clearly and categorically and I quote: "These tests have established that India has a proven capability for a weaponised nuclear programme"(unquote). The Government has drawn the appropriate conclusion from this assertion. India has become a nuclear weapon state, openly for the first time. India has owned up. India has bared its nuclear fangs and claws.
In recent weeks we tried to warn the international community about the Indian ambitions, but some of our friends did not pay any heed. The Prime Minister addressed letters to President Clinton and other world leaders. We tried to alert the international community while India traversed the long road to nuclear weapons status through a series of incremental but consistent steps. On each of these escalatory steps on the nuclear ladder, instead of being stopped, India has been encouraged and abetted by the international community, through transfer of sensitive technology, economic assistance, encouragement, or acquiescence.
It has also been an established pattern whereby each step of India's escalation on the nuclear ladder has been followed by renewed pressure and propaganda against Pakistan. This discriminatory policy towards Pakistan has encouraged India more than anything else to conduct yesterday's nuclear tests.
The muted international reaction to India's brazenly provocative act forces us to conclude that the champions of non-proliferation have decided to acquiesce vis-a-vis India's nuclear ambitions.
Members of the House are aware that for many years Pakistan has been making efforts to establish a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in South Asia along with a zero missile zone. By deploying the Prithvi missiles along our borders, India effectively negated the concept of a zero missile zone in the region. By conducting the three tests yesterday, India has similarly destroyed the concept of a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in South Asia.
The latest Indian tests have shattered the global non-proliferation regime. They have effectively negated the NPT, the CTBT and even the yet-to-be-negotiated FMCT. In fact, the Indian nuclear tests pose a direct threat to Pakistan's security. They cast a long shadow over peace and stability in Asia and the entire Indian Ocean region.
For the past five decades Pakistan has resolutely resisted India's ambitions to establish its hegemony and diktat in South Asia. We will continue to do so, undeterred by any Indian threats.
We have made it absolutely clear in the past that any step of nuclear escalation by India will find a matching response from Pakistan. We stand by that commitment.
I wish to assure the nation that Pakistan has the technical capability to respond to any threats to its security. The ideological and geographical frontiers of Pakistan, are by the grace of Almighty Allah secure and impregnable. Pakistan will take all appropriate steps which are within its sovereign right of self-defence. No outside pressure will deflect us from pursuing the path of self-reliance. We alone will determine what is essential for our security.