Pakistan's foreign minister Wednesday caustically compared Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's opposition to the development of a Pakistani nuclear weapon to an "alcoholic preaching abstinence."
Foreign Minister Sahabzada Yaqub Khan, commenting on Gandhi's public statement of such fears during a May visit to Washington, declared: "It's a curious thing that the sharpest criticism comes from our Indian friends. One would have thought that the most concern would come from non-club members."
Yaqub Khan referred to the fact that India joined the world's nuclear powers--the so-called "nuclear club"--when it exploded a device underground in 1974. Pakistan, long rumored to be seeking nuclear weapons capability, has denied such ambitions--a disavowal the foreign minister reiterated at a breakfast meeting with reporters.
"The alcoholic preaching abstinence has a very strong argument," Yaqub Khan said sarcastically.
Appraises Afghan Talks
But the Pakistani official praised Indian efforts to help bring an end to the long Soviet intervention in Afghanistan--a war that has resulted in millions of Afghan refugees fleeing across the border to Pakistan.
Talks in Geneva with the Kabul government are "going well," Yaqub Khan said. Areas of concern, he said, include the status of the refugees; a nonaggression pact and a declaration of nonalignment and independence by Afghanistan, as well as a pledge of Soviet troop withdrawal.
However, he reminded reporters, "There is no way we can push the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan."
The foreign minister expressed gratitude for continued U.S. deliveries of Sidewinder and Stinger missiles, which have strengthened Pakistani defenses against border air raids by the Soviets in Afghanistan. He lauded Washington's role throughout the long struggle "in spite of doubts in certain quarters--including, above all, Moscow, and even in my country."
"The belief persists that the United States wishes to bleed the Soviets white in Afghanistan and that we are playing a dangerous game (supporting the rebels) at the behest of the United States," Yaqub Khan said. "Nothing could be further from the truth."