Pakistan 'OK's' Nuclear Testing Ban

Pakistan's prime minister said Wednesday his country would unilaterally adhere to the nuclear test ban treaty, with the caveat "If India were to resume nuclear testing, Pakistan will review its position," Sharif also implored on the world to lift sanctions imposed after the tests.

Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan was ready for adherence before a nuclear conference in September 1999.

"In this regard, we expect that the arbitrary restrictions imposed on Pakistan by multilateral institutions will be speedily removed," Sharif told world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly session.

"We also expect that discriminatory sanctions against Pakistan will be lifted," he said.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he welcomed Pakistan's decision to sign on to the nuclear treaty.

"The government of Pakistan is to be commended for heeding the concern of the international community," he said in a statement.

Pakistan and India are old enemies, having fought three wars, including two over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

First India and then Pakistan carried out nuclear tests last May, drawing international sanctions and calls to sign the test ban treaty.

Economic sanctions were imposed against both countries after the tests, but India with its more robust economy has managed to weather them better than Pakistan, which has been pushed to the brink of economic collapse.

Pakistan's agreement to halt future tests should unblock suspended international loans.

A joint team from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank has been in Pakistan since earlier this month to try to put together a package of credits and loans. Pakistan has a dlrs 32.1 billion external debt and an acute shortage of foreign currency.

Written By Anwar Faruqi
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