Pakistan's foreign minister said Saturday that his country may not conduct nuclear tests if it is given weapons within a month to "restore military and strategic balance with India," which conducted its own nuclear tests earlier this month.
Islamabad should be "given conventional weapons so advanced that they can take on the Indian conventional weapon system," the Indian weekly magazine Outlook quotes Gohar Ayub Khan as saying in an interview to be published Monday. He said Pakistan also should be given economic aid.Khan did not say who should provide the aid. China has said it will help Pakistan if the country is threatened, but it has not promised to include Islamabad under its nuclear umbrella.
Asked if there was a possibility of India attacking Pakistan's nuclear installations, Khan said "Yes, there is a strong possibility."
Also on Saturday, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Islamabad will not be deterred from its own nuclear tests by threats of sanctions.
"We have learned to live with these punitive measures," he said.
Fearing a nuclear arms race in the latest crisis, both President Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have telephoned Sharif to urge restraint.
The international community also has warned that a nuclear explosion by Pakistan could result in economic sanctions.
In 1990, Washington cut off all military and humanitarian aid to Pakistan because it believed Islamabad had developed a nuclear weapon.
Sharif said the West had ignored the latest signs of a possible confrontation on the Asian subcontinent, saying "the balance of power in the region has been violently tilted . . . our security cannot be ignored."
He also blamed the industrialized world - particularly Russia and France who refused to sanction India - for ignoring Pakistan's warnings that New Delhi was moving toward nuclear development.