India, Pakistan against arms race

May 21st, 2008 - 11:13 pm ICT by admin  

By Manish Chand
Islamabad, May 21 (IANS) India and Pakistan Wednesday downplayed fears of an arms race between them, saying they have no intention of getting embroiled in it as they have more pressing economic problems like poverty and hunger to take care of. “There is no intention of entering into an arms race. We have to strike a balance between economic development and our threat perception from another country,” India’s External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters at a joint press conference with his counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

“We have to concentrate on addressing our economic problems like poverty, illiteracy and privation,” Mukherjee, who concluded his two-day visit to Islamabad in the evening, responded when asked about speculation in the international press about an arms race between the two nuclear-armed South Asian countries.

“We don’t want to enter into any sort of arms race. Rather, we are for economic development of the region and increasing our bilateral trade,” Mukherjee stressed.

Qureshi shared the perception. “We are not here to involve (ourselves) in an arms race. South Asia is a laggard in economic development,” he said.

For a country of its size, Pakistan is perceived to be spending a disproportionate amount of its annual budget on defence spending.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars over the contentious issue of Kashmir which is claimed in full by both countries.

In a significant move that can have lasting implications for their bilateral relations, the two countries Wednesday decided to intensify trade and investment while at the same time continuing the dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues.

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