NEW DELHI – Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has rejected US President Joe Biden’s comments on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons describing it “factually incorrect and misleading”, according to a press release from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Saturday.
At a Democratic congressional campaign committee reception on Thursday, Biden said Pakistan may be “one of the most dangerous nations in the world” as the country has “nuclear weapons without any cohesion”.
A transcript of the address, published on the White House’s website, quoted Biden as saying: “… And what I think is maybe one of the most dangerous nations in the world: Pakistan. Nuclear weapons without any cohesion.”
Hours after Foreign Minister announced that an official demarche will be issued to the US envoy, Prime Minister Shehbaz issued a detailed statement in response to Biden’s remarks.
He said that Pakistan had proven to be a “most responsible nuclear state” over the past decades whose nuclear programme was managed through a “technically sound and foolproof command and control system”.
“Pakistan has also consistently demonstrated responsible stewardship of its nuclear-weapons capability, marked by a very strong commitment to global standards, including those of IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) on non-proliferation, safety, and security.”
The press release said that the real threat to international peace and security was posed by “ultra-nationalism, violation of human rights in regions that are struggling against illegal occupation, violation of global norms by some states, repeated nuclear security incidents, arms race among leading nuclear weapon states and introduction of new security constructs that disturb the regional balance”.
It added that Pakistan and the US had a long history of a “friendly and mutually beneficial relationship”, further saying that it was “critically important that genuine and durable efforts are made to recognise the real potential of Pakistan-US relationship” at a time when the world was confronted by huge global challenges.
The press release said “unnecessary comments” should be avoided and it was Pakistan’s “sincere desire” to cooperate with the US to promote regional peace and security.
On Twitter, PM Shehbaz said Pakistan was unequivocally a responsible nuclear state which took the matter of nuclear safety with the “utmost seriousness”.
“Let no one have any doubts,” he tweeted, adding that he was proud that the country’s nuclear assets had the “best” safeguards as per the IAEA’s requirements.
Pakistan’s defence minister Khawaja Asif also issued a strong response to Biden’s comments, saying that Pakistan’s record as a responsible nuclear power was “unimpeachable, and internationally attested to, unlike the existence of WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) in Iraq” — referring to US claims about the presence of WMDs in Iraq which were later debunked.
“We have also historically provided military assistance to the very armed forces whose commander in chief erroneously questions our ‘cohesion’,” the defence minister pointed out.
Later in the day, a press release from the Foreign Office said that Acting Foreign Secretary Jauhar Saleem called in US Ambassador Donald Blome to deliver a “strong demarche” for Biden’s comments.
“Pakistan’s disappointment and concern were conveyed to the US envoy on the unwarranted remarks, which were not based on ground reality or facts.
“It was made clear that Pakistan was a responsible nuclear state and its impeccable stewardship of the nuclear programme and adherence to global standards and international best practices was well acknowledged, including by the IAEA,” the press release reads.
It said it was essential to maintain the positive trajectory of Pakistan-US relations and the close cooperation between the two sides to build regional and global peace.