A statement by a French official has put Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in an embarrasing situation. Qureshi, in May this year had gone on record saying that France is ready for a transfer of civilian nuclear energy technology to Pakistan. The office of the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, had then said that they are offered to help Pakistan improve its “nuclear safety” capability. The French authorities had then not reacted to Qureshi’s statement saying that such a move would need IAEA’s nod.
Now, the French authorities have made it official. President Sarkozy’s intitiative for a “strategic relationship” with Pakistan does not include a civil nuclear cooperation pact. A leading Indian newspaper, Times of India reported that dismissing all such claims made earlier by Qureshi, a top official of the French government told that any report to the contrary “emanating from Pakistan was mere kite-flying“.
‘‘I can say that nothing like it is on the table. We would like to ensure safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal but there is no question of getting into an India-like civil nuclear pact with them,’’ said the official in Paris.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, earlier in the day, handed over the charge of nuclear arsenal to PM Yousuf Raza Gilani after as many as 27 ordinances passed by ex-President Parvez Musharraf were re-promulgated.