Canada to resume military ties with Pakistan

May 20th, 2009 - 2:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, May 20 (IANS) Canada has announced resumption of military ties with Pakistan.

Ottawa snapped these ties in 1998 when Islamabad conducted its nuclear tests in response to Pokhran-II tests by India. Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay, who is in Islamabad, Tuesday announced the resumption of military-to-military ties between the two countries.

The minister said officer training programmes will resume later this year.

“It would be more like an officer-exchange programme. So, not so much in terms of us training their officers here, but at a staff college level where you would have seminars and lectures that could occur,” the Canadian Press quoted the defence minister as saying in Islamabad.

MacKay, who met his Pakistani counterpart Ahmad Mukhtar and other officials, said he could not confirm reports that Pakistan is expanding its nuclear arsenal.

“We did talk briefly about the subject insofar as maintaining that Canada, as a non-proliferation nation, encourages Pakistan - along with other countries - to seize upon this opportunity,” the defence minister was quoted as saying.

Islamabad is estimated to have between 80 and 100 nuclear weapons.

Just last week, US Admiral Mike Mullen, who is also chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a congressional committee that there was new evidence of Pakistan rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal.

However, Islamabad has denied the report.

The Canadian defence minister said, “Other countries, I think, are recognizing that there is an opportunity to move away from (nuclear) escalation and look at ways in which we can put out of use much of the nuclear arsenal that exists in many countries around the world.

“That message, I believe, was received here (in Islamabad).”

Just days ago, the Canadian defence minister had said that instability in nuclear-armed was making it the most dangerous country in the world.

Canada, which has 2,700 soldiers as part of the NATO-led forces fighting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, has expressed concern over the increasing influence of the Taliban in Pakistan.

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