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 Monday, 30 December, 2002, 15:48 GMT
Pakistan denies nuclear threat
Pakistan's nuclear-capable Ghauri missile
Both sides could strike deep into each other's territory

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf did not threaten India with nuclear attack during the two countries' border stand-off earlier this year, his spokesman has said.

The text of President Musharraf's speech removes the ambiguity

The president had been misinterpreted when he spoke of using non-conventional warfare if Indian forces attacked, Major-General Rashid Qureshi told the BBC.

General Qureshi said President Musharraf had neither threatened India with the use of nuclear weapons, nor had he made any such remarks during his address at a military ceremony in Karachi.

He said the president was predicting that the people of Pakistan would join the troops in repulsing any Indian invasion.

The nuclear-capable neighbours massed a million troops along their border after an attack on India's parliament, which Delhi blamed on Pakistan-backed militants.

Islamabad denied any role in the attack, which it condemned.

Tensions have lowered since the summer, thanks largely to intense interational diplomatic pressure.

Ambiguity

General Qureshi said President Musharraf told the gathering that at the time of heightened tension a message was conveyed to the Indian prime minister that in case of an invasion, Pakistan would confront the Indian forces through non-conventional methods.

President Pervez Musharraf at the veterans' ceremony in Karachi
Musharraf: Quoted out of context
He said the president then elaborated by stating that Prime Minister Vajpayee was told that if the Indian forces crossed the Line of Control in Kashmir, or the international border, the people of Pakistan would join Pakistani troops in repulsing the Indian invasion.

Perhaps the confusion was caused by President Musharraf's remarks that "non-conventional means" would have been adopted during the military conflict with India.

It was interpreted as a direct threat to India of the possible use of nuclear weapons.

But the text of President Musharraf's speech removes the ambiguity.

It clearly talks about the involvement of the people of Pakistan in such a military conflict, with no direct or indirect reference to the use of nuclear weapons.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Zaffar Abbas in Islamabad
"There was no reference to the use of nuclear weapons"
  Dr Robert Bradnock of Kings College
"President Musharraf is trying to make a crucial political point"
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02 Dec 02 | South Asia
28 Nov 02 | South Asia
18 Jun 02 | South Asia
01 Jun 02 | South Asia
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