ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday rejected US President Joe Biden’s “factually incorrect and misleading” comments from this week in which he sounded alarm at the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.
Pakistan is “one of the most dangerous nations in the world,” US President Joe Biden said at a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Reception this week, saying it had nuclear weapons “without any cohesion.”
Pakistan holds about 100–120 nuclear weapons, which can be delivered by aircraft and land-based missiles. Of the world’s nine nuclear-armed countries, India and Pakistan are among the handful that have been increasing their nuclear warhead stockpiles, according to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).
In a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Sharif said Pakistan has proven to be a most responsible nuclear state over the decades. He added the country’s nuclear program is managed through a “technically sound and foolproof command and control system.”
“Pakistan rejects the remarks reportedly made by the US President, which are factually incorrect and misleading,” Sharif was quoted as saying by the PMO.
Sharif said Pakistan has demonstrated its responsible stewardship of nuclear weapons capability. He said it was marked by a very strong commitment to global standards, including those of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on non-proliferation, safety, and security.
The premier said at a time when the world faces critical global challenges, it is important that “genuine and durable efforts are made to recognize the real potential of Pakistan-US relationship, while avoiding unnecessary comments.”
“It is our sincere desire to cooperate with the US to promote regional peace and security,” Sharif added.
Earlier, Biden’s statement drew a sharp response from Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari as well, who said he was “surprised” at the comments.
“As far as President Biden’s statement is concerned, I have discussed it with the PM and we have summoned the ambassador of the US to Pakistan, Mr. Donald Blome, for an official demarche,” Bhutto-Zardari told reporters at a news briefing.
The foreign minister said there was cause for concern for India's nuclear weapons program, not Pakistan's.
“As far as I am concerned, in our neighborhood, if there are any questions as to nuclear safety and security, then those questions should be directed to our neighbor, India,” he added.
“I believe this is exactly the sort of misunderstanding created when there is a lack of engagement,” he said.
Officially for years allies in fighting terrorism, Pakistan and the United States have had a complicated relationship, bound by Washington’s dependence on Pakistan to supply its troops in Afghanistan but plagued by accusations Islamabad was playing a double game and militants that targetted American troops in Afghanistan were allowed to shelter on Pakistani soil.
Islamabad has long denied this.
Former prime minister Imran Khan also took to Twitter to criticize Biden’s statement as well.
“On what info has @POTUS reached this unwarranted conclusion on our nuclear capability when, having been PM, I know we have one of the most secure nuclear command & control systems?” wrote cricketer-turned-politician Khan on Twitter.