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Mike Wooldridge reports from Delhi
"There may be an element of rhetoric in such exchanges"
 real 28k

Monday, 7 February, 2000, 20:54 GMT
Musharraf's nuclear warning to India

missile Pakistan's Ghauri missile can carry nuclear weapons


Pakistan's military ruler General Pervez Musharraf has refused to rule out Pakistan's first use of nuclear weapons in a conflict with India.


When national integrity is threatened, then we will take a decision at that time
General Pervez Musharraf
In his first interview for an Indian television channel, he said: "I have said very clearly that nuclear power cannot be used, should not be used.

"However, when national integrity is threatened, then we will take a decision at that time."

The reporter pressed him on the issue, saying: "You could use it in an Indo-Pakistan war and be the first to use it against the Indians?"

General Musharraf replied: "We will take a decision when the occasion arises."

India and Pakistan tested nuclear devices in 1998. Both countries say they possess a minimum nuclear deterrent although neither has spelled out what that means.

Kashmir Conflict
In a move which is likely to aggravate already troubled relations with India, Pakistan test fired a new short-range surface-to-surface missile on Monday.

General Musharraf - who threw out Pakistan's elected government in a bloodless coup three months ago - also offered to meet Mr Vajpayee.

But the meeting would have to include discussion of the return of what he called Pakistani-occupied territory in disputed Kashmir.

"I would like to meet Mr. Vajpayee ... we should meet," he said.


musharraf General Pervez Musharraf: Coup leader
"But let me add this. Is there a possibility of developing warmth or trust when the main cause of mistrust remains?"

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir and a 10-week conflict on the border last summer left many fearing the possibility of a full-blown war.

"The real issue between Pakistan and India is only one - the Kashmir dispute," General Musharraf said, adding that once it had been resolved, all other bilateral problems could "very easily" be dealt with.

"Don't solve the Kashmir dispute, and the same state of tension will remain."

The lack of trust between India and Pakistan plunged to new depths following the conflict over Kashmir last summer.

Relations were also soured with the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane in December, which India has alleged Pakistan had a hand in.

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See also:
07 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Musharraf: India raising tension
05 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Musharraf backs Kashmiri militants
03 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Musharraf takes charge of nuclear weapons
19 Jan 00 |  South Asia
On the defensive in Kashmir
23 Jan 00 |  South Asia
Musharraf gets tough over Kashmir
15 Jan 00 |  South Asia
India pushes for hijackers' extradition
25 Oct 99 |  South Asia
Who is in charge of Pakistan?
13 Oct 99 |  South Asia
Profile: General Pervez Musharraf

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