Pakistan rejects demand for abandoning long-range missiles

ISLAMABAD – Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Thursday rejected the demand of a Western country to abandon long-range nuclear missiles.

The senior PML-N leader made these remarks while speaking during a special Senate session in front of ambassadors of many nations.

The finance minister’s unusual remarks came amid Pakistan’s renewed efforts to mend ties with China.

“Nobody has any right to tell Pakistan what range of missiles and nuclear weapons it can have. We have to have our own deterrence,” said Dar.

In private conversations, some Pakistani authorities had said that there was a longstanding demand by a Western country to abandon the long-range nuclear missile programme.

Shaheen-III is Pakistan’s long-range nuclear missile having the capability to take nuclear warheads to 2,750 kilometer distance, covering the whole of India and parts of the Middle East.

Later on, the Prime Minister’s Office also issued a statement to clear the air about the nuclear programme and its safety.

“Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programme is a national asset, which is jealously guarded by the State,” said the PM’s Office. The nuclear and missile programme continues to fully serve the purpose for which this capability was developed, said the PM’s Office.

Dar also spoke about the delay in reaching a staff-level deal with the IMF, saying the delay was “not on the part of the government”.

“It looks like each time the review is a new programme, which is very uncustomary with the IMF,” said Dar.

The still-incomplete talks for the ninth review began on January 31, which had to be finished on February 9 but are yet to conclude.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Thursday announced that documentation for the disbursement of a $500 million commercial loan from China had been completed.

Taking to Twitter, Ishaq Dar said, “Out of Chinese ICBC’s approved rollover facility of $1.3 billion (which was earlier repaid by Pakistan in recent months), documentation for second disbursement of $500 million has been completed by the Finance Ministry for release of funds to the State Bank of Pakistan.”