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Thursday , February 9 , 2017
 
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Delhi trains lens on Pak nuke security

Jaishankar

New Delhi, Feb. 8: Foreign secretary S. Jaishankar today cited Pakistan's selective crackdown on terrorists to air apprehensions over nuclear security in that country, underlining concerns that India hopes will prod the Donald Trump administration in the US into tougher action against Islamabad.

India and Pakistan have so far not been high up on the priorities of Trump, the new US President, and New Delhi is still unclear about his administration's approach to South Asia beyond Afghanistan.

But Trump has in the past made clear his worries about the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, at a time that country is besieged by terrorism - groups that it is fighting especially in its north-west, and also others that it tacitly backs against India and Afghanistan.

Jaishankar's comments point to a growing view within the Indian strategic establishment that this fear - of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists - represents an important lever to try and shine Trump's focus back on terrorism based out of Pakistan, officials said.

"The dangers of discriminating among terrorists - good or bad or even yours and mine - are increasingly recognised," Jaishankar said, speaking here at the inaugural session of a key meet of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT), a partnership of 86 nations and five international organisations.

"Terrorism is an international threat that should not serve national strategy. Nuclear terrorism even more so," Jaishankar said.

The GICNT includes as members Pakistan and Libya, both of which have faced accusations in the past of illegal nuclear trade.

"If access to nuclear technology changes state behaviour, it is only to be expected that it would also impact on non-state calculations," Jaishankar added. "Nuclear security, therefore, will be a continuing concern, especially as terrorist groups and non-state actors strike deeper roots and explore different avenues to spread terror."

Trump had articulated concerns over the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal - among the fastest growing in the world - last March, in a television interview to CNN.

The then Republican presidential candidate called Pakistan "a vital problem", after a suicide attack in Lahore killed 74 people. "Because they have a thing called nuclear weapons," Trump added. "They have to get a better hold of the situation."

Trump has also criticised Pakistan's broader role on terrorism in the past.

"Pakistan is not our friend," he had said in 2011 after US marines tracked down and killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. "Some ally."

But Trump, despite his tough posture, had lavishly praised Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a telephone call after his election, and offered to intervene to resolve disputes between Islamabad and New Delhi.

His attorney-general, Jeff Sessions, has also told the US Congress that it has no plans at the moment to add Pakistan to a list of countries accused by the US of supporting terrorism.

Citizens of the seven countries on that list were barred from entering the US under an executive order signed by Trump last month. The order has been put on hold by a federal judge, whose decision the US government is challenging.


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