Pakistan: Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday demanded a civilian nuclear agreement with the United States after Washington signed a similar deal with arch-rival India.
The US Senate late Wednesday endorsed a landmark US-India nuclear pact, removing the final legislative hurdle for resumption of civilian nuclear trade between the two countries after three decades.
Pakistan, the world’s only nuclear-armed Islamic nation, is a key US ally in the “war on terror” but it remains at the centre of global concerns over an international black market run by its top atomic scientist.
“You do not need to be worried, this is a step forward. Pakistan now will have the right to a similar civilian nuclear deal that India has gotten from the United States,” Gilani told reporters in the central city of Multan.
“We do not want discrimination. Pakistan will make efforts for civilian nuclear technology and they (United States) will have to accommodate us,” he added.
Pakistan has been locked in hostilities with India for more than six decades and the two countries carried out tit-for-tat nuclear detonations in 1998. They launched a peace process in 2004, but the Indian nuclear deal has been a source of annoyance to Islamabad since US President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh first agreed to the deal in 2005.
Pakistan has an “energy security plan” envisaging an increase in nuclear power generation from the current 425 megawatts to 8,800 megawatts by 2030 to meet its growing energy demands.
Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme has been under the spotlight since a 2004 confession by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of its nuclear programme, that he sold atomic secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea.
Khan was pardoned by former president Pervez Musharraf in 2004 but has been kept at his Islamabad villa ever since, guarded by troops and intelligence agents. Pakistan has rejected international demands for access to Khan.