Pakistan rejects Biden’s nukes remarks, summons US envoy
By Kiran Butt and Merve Berker
LAHORE, Pakistan / ANKARA (AA): Islamabad on Saturday rejected President Joe Biden’s remarks on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, and summoned the US ambassador for an official demarche.
At a Democratic congressional campaign committee reception on Thursday, 79-year-old Biden said Pakistan “may be one of the most dangerous countries in the world” because it has nuclear weapons without “cohesion.”
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said he was “surprised” by the US president’s statement, adding that Pakistan’s nuclear assets “meet each and every international standard.”
“I have discussed it with the prime minister and we have summoned ambassador of the United States to Pakistan Donald Blome to the Foreign Office of Pakistan for an official demarche,” he said at a press conference in the southern port city of Karachi on Saturday.
“If there is any question about nuclear weapons, it should be with India,” Bilawal said, citing the “accidental” firing of a supersonic missile into Pakistan on March 9.
Hours later, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Twitter that Pakistan is a responsible nuclear state and “we are proud that our nuclear assets have the best safeguards” as per International Atomic Energy Agency requirements.
“We take these safety measures with the utmost seriousness. Let no one have any doubts,” he added.
A separate statement issued by the premier’s office said remarks made by the US president are “factually incorrect and misleading.”
It said the “real threat” to international peace and security is posed by ultra-nationalism, violation of human rights in regions that are struggling against illegal occupation, repeated nuclear security incidents and arms race among leading nuclear weapon states.
It added that Pakistan and the US have a long history of “friendly and mutually beneficial relationship” and it is important that “genuine and durable efforts are made to recognize the real potential of Pakistan-US relationship, while avoiding unnecessary comments.”
Defense Minister Khawaja Asif also weighed in, and said that Pakistan’s record as a responsible nuclear power is “unimpeachable, and internationally attested to.”
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was removed in a parliament no-confidence vote in April, also questioned Biden’s “unwarranted conclusion,” and said “I know we have one of the most secure nuclear command & control systems.”
The ex-premier, who claims he was ousted in a US-sponsored conspiracy, the Pakistan government, saying it will “end up completely compromising our national security.”
Biden’s comments come just days after Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Qamar Bajwa’s trip to the US where he held high-level meetings with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and others.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif also said the US president’s remark, saying that Pakistan was a “responsible nuclear state.”
[Map of Pakistan by CIA Factbook/Public Domain]
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