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‘Pakistan relentlessly expanding nuclear and missile arsenal’ – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: Pakistan is “relentlessly” expanding its armed forces, especially nuclear and missile capabilities, despite being engulfed in a financial crisis, even as it continues to “persistently target” India with state-sponsored cross-border terrorism, says the Indian defence ministry (MoD).
In its latest annual report, the MoD says Pak army has further “consolidated” its position as the “institution driving Pakistan’s foreign security and defence policies” after the Imran Khan government came to office in August last year.
The MoD’s assertion about Pakistan’s rapidly-growing nuclear and missile arsenals is in tune with international assessments that the country now has 140-150 nuclear warheads as compared to 130-140 of India.
With its expanding uranium enrichment and plutonium production facilities, Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile could realistically grow to 220-250 warheads by 2025 if the current trend continues, as per the Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists. Pakistan, of course, owes much of its progress in the nuclear and missile arenas to clandestine help from China and North Korea over the years.
Noting that there were global concerns regarding proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, which pose a “serious” danger to international security, the MoD said, “WMD terrorism will remain a potent threat as long as there are terrorists seeking to gain access to relevant materials and technologies for malicious purposes.”
The MoD report, turning to Pakistan army’s active support to anti-India terror outfits, said, “It has avoided taking action against jihadi and internationally proscribed terror outfits that target its neighbours.”
“Support to such groups persists. Such outfits continue to be encouraged to infiltrate into India under the cover of the massive cross Line of Control and cross-border firing in Jammu and Kashmir and other areas throughout the year,” it added.
Though there has been a 43% decrease in net cross-border infiltration into J&K so far this year, coupled with a recent decline in use of artillery and other heavy-calibre weapons in ceasefire violations, the MoD attributes it more to the “successful pre-emptive” aerial strikes against the “largest” Jaish-e-Mohammed training facility at Balakot in Pakistan on February 26 as well as other retaliatory measures rather than a genuine change of heart in Islamabad.
India will “continue to take robust and decisive steps to ensure its national security” till Pakistan takes “credible and irreversible steps” to dismantle the terror infrastructure as well as stop supporting terrorists and terror groups operating from territories under its control, said the MoD.
Even as Imran Khan’s austerity plans dictated by the International Monetary Fund has led to widespread resistance in his country, the MoD says: “The political situation in Pakistan continues to remain challenging with a severe deficit of inclusive and balanced economic development.”
“The country has been torn by ethno-regional conflicts, with the zone of conflict expanding from tribal areas on Pakistan-Afghanistan border to the hinterland. Religious extremism is also on the rise,” it added.

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