Pakistan said Feb. 23 that any bid by India to buy U.S.-made Patriot missiles would plunge the region into crisis and threaten an ongoing peace process between the two nuclear-armed rivals.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan said that Islamabad, a front-line ally in what the U.S. calls its “war against terrorism,” had conveyed its concern to Washington over New Delhi’s interest in the anti-ballistic missile system.
“This is our stance — that this step would be counterproductive, this would erode deterrence, that this would send our region into crisis mode,” Khan told a weekly news briefing in the Pakistani capital.
India was reported to have discussed the possibility of buying Patriots during talks on arms deals with the United States this week. The missiles are used for defense against ballistic and cruise missiles and aircraft.
The South Asian neighbors both possess long-range missiles capable of striking deep into each other’s territory and carried out back-to-back nuclear tests in May 1998, but after fighting three wars in the past half-century and returning from the brink of nuclear conflict in 2002, they currently are engaged in 13-month-old peace talks.
Last week, they agreed to start a historic bus service between their portions of the divided Himalayan state of Kashmir.
Khan said if India were allowed to buy Patriots it would spark an “unintended arms race here which nobody wants.”
“It would induce higher risk-taking and this, we think, is not in sync with the goals of peace and security we have here in the region,” Khan added.
He also questioned New Delhi’s motives for wanting Patriots, saying: “India has been pursuing rapprochement with China and a composite dialogue with Pakistan.
“So where is the threat, and what is the threat perception down the road?”