Pakistan on Thursday expressed concern over the recent deployment of India's nuclear submarine INS Arihant, saying there should be no doubt about Islamabad's resolve and capabilities to meet the challenges in the nuclear and conventional realms in South Asia.
"This development marks the first actual deployment of ready-to-fire nuclear warheads in South Asia which is a matter of concern not only for the Indian Ocean littoral states but also for the international community at large," Pakistan's Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said.
Nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant successfully completed its first deterrence patrol this week, taking India into a club of a handful of countries which have the capability to design, construct and operate such a submarine or SSBN.
The spokesperson said the "bellicose" language employed by the top Indian leadership highlights the threats to strategic stability in South Asia and raises questions about responsible nuclear stewardship in India.
He said the increased frequency of missile tests by India, aggressive posturing and deployment of nuclear weapons calls for an assessment of the non-proliferation benefits resulting from India's membership of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
The spokesperson said Pakistan is committed to the objective of strategic stability in South Asia and believes that the only way forward for both countries is to agree on measures for nuclear and missile restraint.
"At the same time no one should be in doubt about Pakistan's resolve and capabilities to meet the challenges posed by the latest developments both in the nuclear and conventional realms in South Asia," he said.
Replying to a question about the follow up of Prime Minister Imran Khan's recent visit to China, Faisal said a high-level Pakistan delegation will have talks with their counterparts in Beijing to sort out technical matters and finalise the modalities for further enhancing the existing bilateral and strategic cooperation between the two countries in diverse fields.
On the proposed Afghanistan peace talks in Moscow, he said a Pakistan delegation led by an additional secretary will attend the dialogue.
The spokesperson said Taliban leader Mullah Baradar was released to give an impetus to the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
He said Pakistan has always been emphasising the need for seeking a negotiated settlement on the Afghan issue with the participation of all stakeholders.
He said it is a matter of concern that a recent American report points out that the Afghan administration and the foreign forces are losing control over the security situation in the war-torn country.
Responding to questions on Christian woman Aasia Bibi who was recently released from jail, Faisal said she is still in Pakistan at a safe location.