Pak Opposes Supply Of US Armed Drones To India

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Islamabad: Pakistan opposed supply of armed drones by the US to India, warning that it could increase the chances of “military misadventures” leading to a conflict in the region.

The remarks by the Foreign Office spokesman came days after a senior Trump administration official said that the US was “considering” India’s request for armed drones for its air force’s modernisation drive.

“Use of armed drones can lower the threshold for conflict, since it can encourage military misadventures, especially in the backdrop of irresponsible discourse about limited military operations below the strategic threshold,” Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria told reporters.

Mr Zakaria said that Pakistan has consistently maintained that preserving regional stability should be the fundamental consideration in any international arms transfer.

He said “extra-regional powers” should be mindful of such actions, which can undermine strategic stability in South Asia.

He demanded that any transfer of armed drones should also be closely examined in the context of the guidelines of the multilateral export control regimes, including the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which place certain limitations on such transfers.

Mr Zakaria said that even if such transfers are below the prescribed thresholds, they definitely violate the spirit of the control regimes, which are aimed at controlling the proliferation of destabilising weapon systems, which can threaten regional peace and stability.

“We hope that the members of MTCR and other export control regimes fully understand their responsibility in not letting any country’s membership of such groupings constitute a carte blanche for proliferation of destabilising weapon systems,” he said.

Talking about Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent visit to Islamabad, he claimed that the US side admitted that Pakistan had two troubled borders and the South Asia Strategy would address these issues.

To a question about “Indo-US coziness”, the spokesman said Pakistan was not against any bilateral relationship between them but “it should not be based on agenda of containing China or threatening Pakistan”.

“We are concerned with the role US is giving to India in the region. It will only aggravate the situation and endanger the peace and stability in this part of the world,” he said.

“…Indian actions and policies, as you are aware, have been a cause of serious concern for many of its neighbours over several issues. We believe that countries should resolve their issues through engagement and dialogue,” he said.

Mr Zakaria also announced that Dr Muhammad Faisal has been nominated as the new spokesperson of the Foreign Office. Faisal has been working as head of South Asia and SAARC affairs at the ministry of foreign affairs.

He has repeatedly summoned the Indian deputy high commissioner to the Foreign Office in recent months.

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