India and Pakistan sign nuclear pact
* Two sides agree to meeting on Siachen
* India studying Pakistan tourism proposal
* Pakistan suggests panel to look after prisoners
By Iftikhar Gilani
NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan signed an agreement to reduce the risk from accidental use of nuclear weapons here on Wednesday.
The agreement was signed after talks between Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri and India’s External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
The agreement, which comes into force immediately, calls upon both parties to maintain and improve national, organisational and technical arrangements to guard against nuclear accidents.
The agreement mandates parties to notify each other immediately in the wake of any accident relating to nuclear weapons with the potential of radioactive fallout or that creates a risk of a nuclear war. However, the obligation to notify the other country shall be in respect of only such accidents which may result in a trans-boundary release of radiological fallout or have security implications for the other party.
Article 5 of the treaty binds both countries not to disclose information obtained from a third party without the prior consent of the other party, except where it concerns environment, public health or safety.
The agreement shall remain in force for five years and can be extended for another five years. Any party wanting to withdraw from the treaty must give six months notice.
Kasuri and Mukherjee earlier co-chaired the fifth meeting of the India-Pakistan Joint Commission for cooperation in agriculture, health, tourism education, and IT and telecom.
Mukherjee hailed the meeting as a demonstration of the two countries’ commitment to carry forward the talks process. He said the foreign secretaries of the two countries would start the fourth round of the composite dialogue process in Islamabad on March 13 and 14.
The two sides also agreed to hold fresh talks on withdrawing troops from the Siachen glacier in Kashmir. “We have both agreed that the directors general of military operations will meet ... we have suggested some dates,” Kasuri told reporters. Mukherjee said the date would be decided later. Sources here say Pakistan had proposed a meeting of military officials on February 26.
India is studying proposals put forward by Pakistan to boost tourism, Mukherjee said.
Kasuri said India had reacted positively to Pakistan’s suggestion for a panel of judges from both sides to look into the human rights of prisoners in their jails and said he had nominated four Pakistani judges. He said Mukherjee told him that India would present some names in “a few days”.
Mukherjee said that as agreed upon during his visit to Islamabad in January, he handed over to Kasuri a list of relatives of missing prisoners of war who wanted to visit Pakistan.