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US congress told Pakistan modernized its nuclear program despite economic crunch

Pakistan's Successful experiment of upgraded version of Babar Cruise Missile 1B

Despite experiencing economic turmoil, Pakistan has persisted with its nuclear modernization endeavours, a senior US intelligence official told a recent Congressional hearing.

The official testified that Pakistan has enhanced the security of its nuclear arsenal and highlighted that Pakistan’s defence policy is significantly influenced by its contentious relationship with India

Lt Gen Jeffrey Kruse, the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, made these remarks while testifying at a Congressional hearing on China earlier this week.

During the hearing, Kruse informed lawmakers about Pakistan’s efforts to garner international support, including from the UN Security Council, in order to resolve its dispute with India regarding Kashmir. He also mentioned that since February 2021, Islamabad and New Delhi have maintained an uneasy ceasefire along the shared Line of Control.

The official underscored that despite the economic turmoil, Pakistan has persevered with its nuclear modernization efforts. Additionally, he drew attention to the escalation of terrorist violence against Pakistani security forces and civilians in the preceding year. He stated, “Pakistan has sustained its nuclear modernization efforts despite its economic turmoil. Terrorist violence against Pakistani security forces and civilians also rose last year.”

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, as of January 2023, Pakistan reportedly possesses 170 nuclear warheads.

Faced with financial challenges, Pakistan is relying on support from allies such as China and Saudi Arabia to overcome its economic difficulties. Furthermore, Pakistan’s finance minister, Muhammad Aurangzeb, is presently in Washington negotiating a new loan package with the International Monetary Fund.

Kruse informed top American lawmakers that Pakistan’s defense policy continues to be influenced by its contentious relationship with India. He noted that cross-border violence between the two countries has decreased following their renewed commitment to a ceasefire in February 2021.

“Islamabad is strengthening its nuclear arsenal and enhancing the security of its nuclear materials and command and control systems,” he remarked. Kruse also mentioned the successful test of Pakistan’s Ababeel medium-range ballistic missile in October.

In 2023, the number of security forces killed by militants reached a nine-year high, with approximately 400 fatalities. Pakistani security forces have been engaged in nearly daily counterterrorism operations over the past year.

The historical relationship between Islamabad and New Delhi has been characterized by tension, primarily due to the Kashmir issue and cross-border terrorism originating from Pakistan.

In 2019, Pakistan downgraded its diplomatic relations with New Delhi following the Indian government’s revocation of Article 370 of the Constitution, which resulted in the removal of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and the division of the state into two Union Territories.

India consistently expresses its desire for normal and neighborly relations with Pakistan. India also emphasizes that the responsibility lies with Islamabad to establish an environment free of terrorism and hostility for any engagement.

New Delhi further asserts that the constitutional measures implemented by the Indian government aim to ensure socio-economic development and good governance in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, underscoring that these are internal matters pertaining to India.

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