ISLAMABAD -  Pakistan on Friday said it opposes $2 billion armed drones deal between the United States and India as it could endanger peace.

Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria, while addressing a weekly news briefing here, said that Pakistan had consistently maintained that preserving regional stability should be the fundamental consideration in any international arms transfer.

“Extra-regional powers should be mindful of such actions, which can undermine strategic stability in South Asia. Use of armed drones can lower the threshold for conflict, since it can encourage military misadventures, especially in the backdrop of irresponsible discourse about limited military operations below the strategic threshold,” he added.

The spokesperson said any transfer of armed drones should also be closely examined in the context of the guidelines of the multilateral export control regimes, including the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which places certain limitations on such transfers.

“Even if such transfers are below the prescribed thresholds, they definitely violate the spirit of the control regimes, which are aimed at controlling the proliferation of destabilising weapon systems, which can threaten regional peace and stability,” he said.

Zakaria said that Pakistan hoped that the members of the MTCR and other export control regimes “fully understand their responsibility in not letting any country’s membership of such groupings constitute a carte blanche for proliferation of destabilising weapon systems.”

He said that access to nuclear technology for peaceful uses was the right of every state.

“However, this right has to be exercised under appropriate safeguards in accordance with the established non-proliferation standards. Any deviation from established international standards will undermine the objective of non-proliferation by opening up possibilities for diversion of technology intended for peaceful uses to military purposes,” Zakaria said.

 The members of the European Union (EU), which proclaim strong commitment to non-proliferation norms, should carefully examine the implications of nuclear cooperation without appropriate safeguards, he maintained.

“Many recent independent studies have pointed out the shortcomings of the country-specific NSG [Nuclear Suppliers Group] exemption of 2008, which allows India to maintain three parallel streams of its nuclear programme,” he remarked.

Zakaria said the minimum requirement for any nuclear cooperation agreement should be placement of all civilian nuclear facilities under safeguards, without exception.

Moreover, he said that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards should be permanent without any provision for their temporary application or the use of safeguarded nuclear materials in unsafeguarded facilities.

“The international community should also insist on a stronger commitment on nuclear non-testing,” Zakaria added.

He said that any agreement, which did not address those issues, would be detrimental to the objectives of non-proliferation and strategic stability in South Asia and would also undermine the credibility of the multilateral global non-proliferation regimes.

To a question about the US strategy in Afghanistan and India’s support for the new policy, Zakaria said “this is their bilateral matter.”

On US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent visit to Pakistan, Zakaria said, Pakistan raised the issue of Indian involvement in terrorism in Pakistan, and also mentioned the subversive activities carried out by the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) using terrorists based in Afghanistan.

“We also raised the issue of ceasefire violations by the Indian forces along the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary and that it endangers peace in the region and beyond. We also highlighted the plight of Kashmiris in occupied Kashmir. The US side admitted that Pakistan had two troubled borders and South Asia strategy would address these issues,” he said.

The spokesperson said India was sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan using the Afghanistan soil.

“It has been proven that India is involved in perpetrating terrorism and terror financing in Pakistan and also nurturing Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and the Jamaatul Ahrar. India is using Afghan soil,” he said.

Zakaria said whatever transpired during Secretary Tillerson’s visit to Pakistan was already in the public domain.

To a question, he said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was an economic development project, which will benefit not just Pakistan and China but also the people of the entire region, including the people of the Central Asian states.

“As far as Indo-US coziness is concerned, it should not be based on agenda of containing China or threatening Pakistan. We are concerned with the role US is giving to India in the region. It will only aggravate the situation and endanger the peace and stability in this part of the world,” he said.

The spokesperson said Pakistan was concerned over Indian belligerence in the region.

Zakaria said Pakistan’s foreign policy direction was very clear.

The spokesperson said Pakistan had no aggressive designs against any country and it believed in shared regional prosperity by exploiting the full potential of this region.

To a question, Zakaria said Pakistan had always raised its concerns regarding the presence of large swathes of ungoverned spaces inside Afghanistan.

Asked about the US move against Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran nuclear deal, he said the JCPOA presented a good model for mutually agreed and negotiated settlement of issues at the international level.

Zakaria said US Defence Secretary James Mattis’ visit – expected in December - was not yet scheduled. 

Asked to comment on Indian army chief Bipin Rawat’s allegation that terrorist training camps existed in Pakistan, he said the biggest terrorist camps actively working were the ones of Indian occupation forces in the occupied Kashmir, which India would have to do away with.

Responding to a question, he said that the Unesco must be looking into the aspect of India extricating itself of such monuments and historical facts as the Taj Mahal, built by the Muslims.

Earlier, in his opening statement, Zakaria said Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi led Pakistan’s delegation to Istanbul for 9th D-8 Summit.

The members, he said, reaffirmed their resolve to fight against all threats, particularly, terrorism, extremism and sectarianism.

He said October 27 was observed by Kashmiris and the world over as “black day”.

In solidarity with Kashmiris, Pakistanis at home and abroad also observed “black day”.