Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today refuted the allegation that India has in any way violated the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.
In an interview to CNN's Wolf Blitzer at 1700 EDT today, Singh cut down the assumption that India was being rewarded despite violating the NPT, saying 'India was never a signatory to the NPT so there's no question of violating it."
He said that India had had nuclear capability but had decided not to test during the NPT formulation. "Our nuclear tests were a response to the reckless proliferation in the region, from North Korea to the A Q Khan phenomenon and others," he said. "Besides, we have had an impeccable record of non-proliferation, and the world must acknowledge our exemplary behavior, our weapons are under complete civilian rules."
Singh also said that while fears of a nuclear clash between India and Pakistan were 'grossly overstated' and 'exaggerated outside of the region,' he did not rule out the fear or Pakistan's nuclear weapons falling into the hands of jihadi elements in the event of a coup or collapse of President Pervez Musharraf's government.
"I am not an astrologer but I hope and pray it doesn't happen," Singh said. "The security of assets in Pakistan does worry us and we hope a workable solution can be found," he said.
At the same time, he called for Pakistan to shut down its terrorism infrastructure, saying there was evidence that such camps were still operational.
In response to a question on whether he trusted President Musharraf to follow through on his promises, Singh quoted one of the greatest American presidents, Ronald Reagan.
'I do trust, but as President Reagan said 'Trust and verify.' I trust the territory won't be used to fan terrorism in India but there are some worries on that front, the infrastructure is still intact.'
Singh also added that he was convinced that Osama bin Lade and the al Qaeda were active in Pakistan. 'There is no doubt that Osama is in the border area, the North Western Frontier Province, the al Qaeda element is quite active there.'
'It is in our vested interest to see a strong, stable, secular democracy in Pakistan,' he said, pointing out not one of the 150 million-strong Indian Muslim population has been a part of al Qaeda or the Taliban regime.
'It is because we are a secular democracy and Muslim in India participate fully in the mainstream, and India is a country where anyone is free to practise their religion without fear or favor.'
Singh, a noted economist himself, refused to raise to Blitzer's bait of Americans losing jobs to India, saying that one had to look at the 'holistic picture it's not a one-way street, US enterprises also benefit and become more competitive in the long term."
When Blitzer persisted with the short-term effects of lost jobs, Singh was quick to dismiss it, saying 'One has to look at the big picture for economies as big and diverse as India and the United States, otherwise we can't develop our capabilities.'