The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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US-Pak talks in nuke shadow

Islamabad, Feb. 20: Pakistan and the US today held strategic and security talks and agreed to continue the dialogue “in the context of recent global developments in arms control”.

US assistant secretary of state for arms control Stephen Rademaker and Pakistani additional foreign secretary Tariq Osman Hyder led the talks.

A foreign office statement said the talks were part of a broad dialogue on strategic and security issues.

“The talks are part of a multi-faceted bilateral relationship and further demonstrate the US commitment to a strong, cooperative long-term relations with Pakistan,” the statement said.

The US official argued that in certain circumstances missile defence could contribute to regional stability and the US was ready to continue discussions with Pakistan on the issue.

The talks were held after newspapers reported that “the US is asking Pakistan to share the codes for missile delivery system to preclude the possibility of unauthorised use”.

Driven by these fears, Japan has also started a similar security dialogue with Pakistan which is suspected to have acquired intermediate range ballistic missile technology from North Korea. Washington opened the strategic security dialogue with Pakistan soon after the dramatic events of September 11, 2001.

Recent stunning revelations regarding smuggling of nuclear materials and information from Pakistan to Libya, North Korea and Iran in the early and mid 90s had triggered concerns about the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal which western countries fear might fall into the hands of fundamentalists.

President Pervez Musharraf has on several occasions dispelled these fears by saying that the nuclear and other strategic weapons were under the tight lid of the National Command Authority (NCA), ruling out possibility of pilferage or unauthorised use.

Schools destroyed

Islamic militants have dynamited seven primary schools for girls in Pakistan’s remote north in the past week in a bid to discourage female education, a government official said yesterday.

The attacks occurred in two districts of the mountainous Northern Areas but caused no injuries as they were carried out at night, a senior government official said from Gilgit, the region’s capital.

He blamed the attacks on local tribesmen encouraged by “religious elements” opposed to education of girls.

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