US Central Command Centcom Commander General Michael E Kurilla expressed his confidence in the command-and-control structure of Pakistan’s nuclear programme amid political turmoil and fear of an economic meltdown in the South Asian nation.
During his appearance before the US Senate Arms Services Committee Centcom chief said “I am confident in their nuclear security procedures”. A committee member had spoken about the political issues in Pakistan and sought to know the assessment of the Centcom chief.
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“I deal with the military relationship there and I have a great relationship with the Chief of the Army Staff, General Munir,” General Kurilla said, adding: “I think the concerns right now in Pakistan are their budget, their financial situation, the current political situation, and the counterterrorism situation.”
He also mentioned the resurgence of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
The comments by the US general came after Finance Minister Ishaq Dar last week’s statement about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme in the Senate.
Finance Minister Dar said that Pakistan would not compromise on its nuclear programme for reviving the stalled International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan facility.
The finance minister was responding to Senator Raza Rabbani’s concerns that he raised during a Senate session, wherein he asked whether the IMF programme was being delayed to force the government into resorting to moves that were against state interests.
“I believe in transparency and fiscal discipline […] let me assure you that nobody is [ready] to compromise on the nuclear or missile programme of Pakistan. No way!” he had stressed.
The Foreign Office last week had also denied that Pakistan’s nuclear programme was on the agenda with any “government, any financial institution or any international organisation.”
PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi had questioned Ishaq Dar’s statement on nuclear weapons in the Senate, demanding that the Finance Minister should clarify whether the IMF asked for Pakistan to give up its missile system.
Addressing a press conference, PTI Senior leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the finance minister’s statement on the Senate floor was important.
“This statement has created a new crisis in the country,” the former foreign minister said, adding that the Foreign Office spokesperson had to clarify during her weekly press briefing.
“The spokeswoman says that talks about nuclear power are not on the agenda of talks with any country or financial institution [then] why did Ishaq Dar give this statement on the Senate floor,” Qureshi questioned.
“Tell us if IMF asked you for a missile system, Ishaq Dar. Why did you make such a big statement on the floor of the house?” asked Qureshi. No one has the right to ask us about our nuclear programme, said Qureshi.
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