|By Nilova Roy Chaudhury||January 2017|
New Delhi. India and Pakistan exchanged a list of their nuclear installations January 1, under a bilateral agreement which prohibits them from attacking each other’s nuclear facilities. An annual exercise conducted on the first day of the year, January 1 exchange of lists marked the 26th consecutive year when the neighbours exchanged these documents.
“India and Pakistan today exchanged, through diplomatic channels simultaneously in New Delhi and Islamabad, the list of nuclear installations and facilities covered under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations between India and Pakistan,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
The agreement was signed between then Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto on December 31, 1988 as a crucial confidence-building measure (CBM) to prevent any untoward incidents, and came into force on January 27, 1991.
The CBM mandates that the two countries inform each other of nuclear installations and facilities to be covered under the agreement on January 1 of every calendar year. This is the 26th consecutive exchange of such lists between the two countries.
That this agreement is dutifully followed despite tensions between the two countries provides hope that untoward “accidents” do not happen between the nuclear-armed countries.
India and Pakistan also exchanged, through diplomatic channels simultaneously in New Delhi and Islamabad on Sunday, lists of nationals, including civil prisoners and fishermen, of each country lodged in their respective jails. This annual exercise is according to the provisions of the Agreement on Consular Access, an MEA statement said.
The agreement on consular access, another key CBM, was signed between the two countries on May 21, 2008, and provides for the exchange of a comprehensive list of nationals of each country lodged in their jails twice each year — on January 1 and July 1.
“India remains committed to addressing with Pakistan on priority the humanitarian matters, including those pertaining to prisoners and fishermen in each other’s country,” the MEA statement said.
“In this context, we await from Pakistan confirmation of nationality of those in India’s custody who are otherwise eligible for release and repatriation. We also await consular access to those Indian nationals in Pakistan’s custody for whom it has so far not been provided, including Hamid Nehal Ansari and Kulbhushan Jadhav,” the MEA statement said.