Musharraf ready to use N-weapons against India
RASHMEE Z AHMED
HINDU TIMES NEWS NETWORK [ SATURDAY, APRIL 06, 2002 6:34:44 PM ]
LONDON: Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has "threatened India with the atom bomb" in the event of war over Kashmir whose "blood runs in our hearts", in an interview published in the German magazine Der Spiegel..Read this story in...
The magazine, which quoted the General as condemning "India's great power illusion", said he warned "India to count on the fact that if the pressure on Pakistan becomes too great, then nuclear weapons use (is possible) as a last means of defence".
Commentators said the English translation of the Der Spiegel story, which appears in the original German under the unapologetically sensational headline Kaschmir konflikt: Pakistan’s Musharraf droht Indien mit der Atombombe, could not hide the Pakistani President’s defiant raising of the war rhetoric.
Musharraf’s remarks come just a fortnight after Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee emphatically ruled out any "possibility or threat of nuclear war". "India had already declared that it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons and Pakistan has also expressed similar views," the Prime Minister told journalists during a two-day visit to Shimla late last month.
Musharraf’s aggressive comments are unlikely to go down well within the European Union, Britain and the Commonwealth. Early on Saturday, Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon became the first prominent world leader to issue a bald rebuke to Musharraf for his proposed referendum.
While most other countries, including Britain maintained a studied silence, McKinnon described the referendum as "a device used in the past by a former military leader in Pakistan to extend his term in office".
In a stark reminder of the diplomatic isolation that descended on Pakistan after the 1999 coup right till September 11, McKinnon insisted that "(Musharraf’s) roadmap for democracy did not include provision for such a referendum". Pakistan remains suspended from the councils of the Commonwealth.
Leading Pakistani opposition activists here are actively seeking to build up Western opinion against the referendum, which they denounce as an unconstitutional and illegitimate one-man race to confirm Musharraf’s presidency for the next five years.
But Pakistan analysts said that September 11 made it harder to sully the image of the West’s chief ally as a power-hungry military dictator with his finger on the nuclear button.
In Sunday's Der Spiegel interview, Musharraf appeared to plead for international understanding of the situation vis-à-vis India. Insisting he had done enough to placate India and "defuse" a bilateral crisis by arresting Islamist militants and banning their organisations, he blamed India for continuing to arm itself.
Telling the German magazine that he was "not power-hungry …but believed in unity of command", the General said he would not extradite Omar Sheikh, the British-born militant charged with the murder of journalist Daniel Pearl. "I want to set up the process here for this man…and hang him if he is condemned," he said.