Pakistan to summon US envoy for demarche over Biden’s nukes remark: FM Bilawal

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ISLAMABAD, OCT 15: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Saturday said that the incumbent government has decided to summon US Ambassador Donald Blome for an official demarche on US President Joe Biden’s remarks on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.

At a Democratic congressional campaign committee reception on Thursday, Biden said Pakistan may be “one of the most dangerous nations in the world” as the country has “nuclear weapons without any cohesion”.

A transcript of the address, published on the White House’s website, quoted Biden as saying: “… And what I think is maybe one of the most dangerous nations in the world: Pakistan. Nuclear weapons without any cohesion.”

In a press conference at the Bilawal House in Karachi today, the foreign minister said that Pakistan’s nuclear assets “meet each and every international standard in accordance with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) as far as security and safety is concerned”.

“If there is any question as to nuclear safety, then they should be directed to our neighbor India, who very recently accidentally fired a missile into Pakistani territory.

“This is not only irresponsible and unsafe but raises genuine and serious concerns about the safety of nuclear-capable countries,” he pointed out.

“I am surprised by the remarks of President Biden […] I believe this is exactly the sort of misunderstanding that is created when there is a lack of engagement.”

Bilawal said that Pakistan had embarked on a “journey of engagement” and just marked the 75th anniversary of bilateral engagements with the US.

“If this was such a concern, I imagine it would’ve been raised in that meeting with me, I believe that we have just started our journey of engagement and we will have many more opportunities to engage with the US and address any concerns and misconceptions they might have to this specific question.”

We have called the ambassador for a demarche, he said, adding that an opportunity should be allowed to the US to explain the position.

“I don’t believe it negatively impacts the relations between Pakistan and the US. We will continue on the positive trajectory of engagements we are having so far,” Bilawal highlighted.

He went on to say that Pakistan had nothing to do with Biden’s statement. “We will call their ambassador and issue a demarche, but I don’t think this was an official function […] it wasn’t an address to the parliament or an interview.

“It was a fundraiser […] it was an untraditional conversation in which this sentence was used so it should be [looked at] in this manner, I think we will look at this statement in this way,” he elaborated.

However, at the same time, Bilawal said that the nation should desist from “going into conspiracy theories”.

He clarified that had the government felt any pressure, it would have been brought before the public. “But there is no such issue, we have varying stances on different issues, but when you’re responsible and mature states, you engage.”

There are a lot of opportunities for Pakistan to positively engage with the rest of the word, he added.