Pakistan is unlikely to accept any U.S. demands to curb its nuclear program, especially since Islamabad considers the weapons a strategic deterrent against any possible attack from perceived arch-rival India, Pakistani analysts say.
Moreover, Pakistan knows the U.S. needs it to fight its so called "war on terror" in the region, analysts add.
Longtime differences between Pakistan and the U.S. over the nuclear issue resurfaced in Washington during a U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue meeting held Monday at the U.S. State Department in Washington.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Islamabad to consider reducing its nuclear stockpile; however, his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz said his country would not accept any unilateral curbs on its program.
Moreover, Aziz said the U.S. should first ask India -- with which Pakistan has fought three full-scale wars since its independence in 1947 -- to curb its own program.
Mutahir Ahmed, chairman of the International Relations Department at the University of Karachi, told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday that Kerry’s recent statements should not worry Pakistan.
Washington and Islamabad have been strategic and military partners for over six decades, Ahmed noted, adding that -- despite their differences on the nuclear file -- both countries know they need each other on several other issues, including bringing peace to Afghanistan and ending terrorism there.
"Currently, the focus of the [strategic] dialogue is on Afghanistan. Both countries are concentrating on finding ways to get out of Afghan imbroglio," he said.
"This [talk about reducing Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal] is not something America is pressing for [at this point]," he added.
Mehdi Masood, a former diplomat and Karachi-based analyst on international affairs, agreed.
"This is, no doubt, a serious issue for the U.S. administration. But simultaneously, Washington understands our security concerns. Therefore, we can simply say that both countries have stuck to their respective stands on the nuclear issue," Masood told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.
According to the Sweden-based Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Pakistan currently has around 90 to 110 atomic weapons -- slightly more than India, which possesses between 80 and 100 nuclear warheads.
International think tanks blame China for backing Pakistan’s nuclear program and claim Islamabad’s nuclear arsenal may cross the 200-mark within the next five years.
Islamabad says its nuclear program is its only deterrent against India, which can field significantly larger conventional military forces.
"Pakistan has no other option but to maintain a minimum nuclear deterrent in order to balance out the military equilibrium in the region," he said.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to participate in a Nuclear Security Summit in Washington from March 31 to April 1.