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India’s arms deal with US a hurdle in way of peace, says senator

India’s arms deal with US a hurdle in way of peace, says senator

ISLAMABAD: The Chairman of the Senate standing committee on defence production, retired Lt Gen Abdul Qayyum, has said that India’s arms deal with the United States can create a big hurdle in the way of regional peace because it will trigger an arms race.

“India is using the entire lot of mechanised arms and attack formations procured under the deal at Pakistan’s eastern border,” he said. “(In response) we have strengthened our tactical nuclear capability, attracting attention of the world which has recognised Pakistan to be number three in this field after Russia and America.”

“However, Pakistan’s nuclear capability is defensive having no offensive designs against any one; rather it is for peace in the South Asian region,” the former general said while speaking at the APP Forum.

Answering a question on Pakistan-India talks, he said the two countries should pursue the policy of co-existence and find out an amicable solution to the Kashmir dispute in line with the United Nations resolutions.

“The key to success of dialogue is with New Delhi and India needs a leader like Nelson Mandela who always worked for the suffering humanity, setting aside personal interests.”

Mr Qayyum, who has served as chairman of the Pakistan Ordnance Factory, said the country was self-sufficient in developing defence products of good quality and met requirements of its armed forces indigenously.

“The quality of the country’s defence production is second to none in the world. It is evident from the fact that two Awacs (Airborne Warning and Control System) damaged in a terrorist attack on Kamra airbase have been locally repaired at a minimum cost though the supplier had refused to repair the aircraft because of the severity of the damage,” he said.

Prime responsibility of defence production departments, Senator Qayyum said, was to fulfil the needs of the armed forces. The surplus capacity is being utilised to produce items for exports.

He said there was immense potential to increase export of defence articles whether they were JF-17 Thunder, Super Mushak or military trainer aircraft.

The country is also self-sufficient in making small arms and ammunition like mortar bombs, G-3 rifles, grenades and artillery and tank ammunition ranging from 200 to 2,500 pounds shots.

About the controversy over Rangers’ powers for carrying out the targeted operation in Karachi, he said Article 148 of the constitution allowed the federal government to make such deployments in provinces in case of foreign aggression or internal turmoil, because it was a ‘constitutional duty’ of the centre.

To another query, he said Pakistan had exemplary relations with Saudi Arabia and would extend all possible assistance to it in case of any threat to its sovereignty. “However, issues should be resolved through political means,” he added.

Mr Qayyum, who has also worked as chairman of the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM), said that public sector corporations should be made more efficient and only those entities should be considered for privatisation, which were consistently running in loss.

During his tenure in the PSM, he recalled, he had cleared its Rs8 billion debt and made the unit a profit-earning entity with zero liability. Its production capacity was being increased from 1 million ton to 3m tons.

Published in Dawn, January 4th, 2016

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