NEW YORK - A Pakistani Embassy spokesman has called for shifting focus on India's expanding nuclear programme and its aggressive posturing, while rejecting claims that Pakistan was irresponsibly building its nuclear arsenal.

"Pakistan was not the first to introduce nuclear weapons in South Asia; India was," Spokesman Nadeem Hotiana said in a letter published in The New York Times on Saturday.

He was responding to a recent Times' editorial claiming that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal was growing "faster than any other country's", and that "Persuading Pakistan to rein in its nuclear weapons programme should be an priority." 

Hotiana, who is press attache at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, said, "Recent public reports confirm that India continues to grow its nuclear programme by testing missiles with longer ranges, working on coming fissile material production facilities, and investing in a nuclear triad that inevitably requires a larger nuclear arsenal. India also propounds war-fighting doctrines while being ascendant as one of the world’s largest importer of military hardware. A special waiver for India for nuclear trade is another destabilising step,” the letter said.It added, Pakistan has for decades offered proposals to India for nuclear restraint, including a strategic restraint regime that could address concerns raised in the editorial. As late as September, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan made fresh proposals for peace in South Asia in his speech at the United Nations. Sadly, India has refused to engage.

"Peace can be better served by focusing the world’s attention on India’s lack of constructive response to Pakistan’s proposals, its investment in destabilising technologies and its aggressive posturing," it said. Meanwhile, the Co-President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Ira Helfand, has urged India and Pakistan to join the growing international movement to ban and abolish nuclear weapons.

In a letter to The New York Times, she said, "Studies have shown that in addition to mass deaths from nuclear weapons, the use of less than half of the Indian and Pakistani arsenals would cause worldwide climate disruption and a global famine that could put up to two billion people at risk. But it will be hard to persuade Pakistan and India to get rid of their nuclear weapons as long as the United States and Russia continue to insist that nuclear weapons are essential for their security. Their arsenals are far more deadly and threaten the survival of humanity," it said.