Pakistan vowed on Tuesday to work to prevent non-nuclear states from gaining the technology that would put them on the path to acquiring nuclear weapons — even though both Islamabad and neighbor New Delhi have defied non-proliferation treaties to become competing nuclear powers.
The pledge was delivered by Sartaj Aziz, adviser to Pakistan’s prime minister on foreign affairs, at a multination conference on non-proliferation in Islamabad, attended by representatives of South and Central Asia, as well as China and Russia.
Pakistan is signatory to the 13-year-old United Nations resolution aimed at curbing the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, with a particular emphasis on preventing non-state actors from getting their hands on massively destructive technology as well as materials.
But Islamabad has had a sketchy history in this area, with the architect of its nuclear weapons program, Qadeer Khan, accused of clandestinely giving North Korea nuclear weapons technology.
When India started down the nuclear road by launching its program in the early 1970s, Pakistan was quick to follow. The tensions between the two countries _ neither of which is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Agreement _ have raised the specter of a nuclear confrontation between the two hostile neighbors.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since 1947 when majority Muslim Pakistan was created from the larger South Asian subcontinent.
Aziz, the prime minister’s adviser, told participants at the Islamabad conference that Pakistan has implemented regulatory precautions to avoid siphoning off technology into the wrong hands.
The international community has expressed fears militants could lay their hands on nuclear and other destructive materials, particularly as various al-Qaida-linked and other militant groups and the rival Islamic State group are still able to stage large-scale attacks in both Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan.
Pakistan has come under sanctions in the past because of its nuclear weapons program and as a result has run into shortages of spare parts for its nuclear reactors that provide energy. It has also been critical of U.S. support for India’s inclusion in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which devises guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear-related exports.
The two-day conference also includes representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and Interpol.