By Sidra Khan and Abd-ur-Rehman
India applied for NSG membership on 12th May; in response to that Pakistan also put up to join NSG by 18th May. Since then, India has been lobbying around internationally gathering sympathies and collaborating with like-minded nations to support membership of India in NSG. Indian Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, while in a press conference has admitted having spoken to 23 nations to help India acquiring NSG membership. Pakistan, on the other hand, has only relied on maintaining a telephonic conversation with Vladimir Makei, Foreign Minister of Belarus and Yerzhan Ashikbayev, Deputy Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan. Pakistan is opposing Indian inclusion in the NSG at national level whereas efforts should have been made diplomatically at international level.
However, Pakistan still can amend its mistakes by acknowledging the diplomatic efforts of China, Turkey-Kazakhstan, and Belarus. Pakistan needs to make substantial diplomatic efforts for securing NSG membership by increasing visits to allied countries. Pakistan also needs to help it’s all weather friend China; reducing international pressure and supporting Chinese stance globally on NSG. Pakistan should initiate diplomatic lobbying at international level with the state like Ireland South Africa and New Zealand to support Pakistan’s efforts.
Pakistan does not oppose India’s membership in NSG as it should follow criteria based approach. India officially cannot make declaratory statements regarding Pakistan’s membership in NSG as India itself is waiting for its membership to be approved.
Experts all around the world are giving their views which call for strong standards for NSG membership which will, in turn, strengthen the global disarmament and the nonproliferation regime.
Nuclear experts have openly criticized both India and Pakistan’s application in NSG as according to them they do not meet the required criteria. However in this regard, India is strongly criticized as experts have rejected the diplomatic efforts of USA supporting India’s bid in NSG.
India has an added privilege as it has exemption granted by NSG from India’s long-standing safeguard standard for nuclear trade signed in 2008. However, India has not been able to meet the possible non-proliferation commitment it pledged it would adhere to. India’s civil nuclear separation is still ambiguous; additionally, the IAEA additional protocol is quite weak compared to the other developed nuclear-armed state.
Nuclear experts are of the view that NSG’s would be further discredited by having country-specific exemptions from the NSG guidelines. These exemptions would damage the acute strategic balance and exacerbate the nuclear threats in the South Asian region.
Dr. Huma Baqai Associate Professor, Director Public Affairs and Communication and former Chairperson, Department of Social Sciences endorses Pakistan’s membership in NSG group rightly as Pakistan’s nuclear command and Control is safe and well protected. Although US-Indo economic cooperation is at its summit, however, USA also needs Pakistan for its interests in South Asia. Similarly, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria vehemently has said as Pakistan has opposed the country specific exemption for NSG membership, Pakistan since the beginning has aimed at the policy of criteria based approach treating both India and Pakistan as free and sovereign states in a nondiscriminatory way. India alone cannot be considered for NSG membership the two candidates are needed to be considered on equal footings.
Indian ministers, on the other hand, are busy convincing the Chinese government to support Indian bid for NSG , Subramanian Jaishankar Indian Foreign Secretary has recently visited China unannounced. However, China in response has not only opposed Indians but also have criticized major powers like the US to end their support for India as such states only want to gain access to sensitive and advanced nuclear technology
Analyzing Chinese narrative it becomes quite clear that China will not allow India to gain its entry in NSG, however, US State department had stressed Pakistan to present its NSG application in front of the group.
There is also speculation regarding the meeting of Indian PM Modi with Chinese President Xi in the coming Shanghai Cooperation Organization SCO summit planned to be held in Tashkent in the next coming days.
Pakistan with its continuous efforts has been trying to maintain balance in South Asia and to initiate a culture of peaceful nuclear technology in the region, Pakistan urges all the NSG members to adhere the criteria and merit-based approach for inclusion of new members and stresses India to strengthen its nuclear safety and security standards. Since decades, Pakistan has proved itself to be a responsible nuclear state adhering to international nuclear norms of nonproliferation. Pakistan should be treated fairly and on criteria based approach for the NSG membership. Pakistan has a four-decade long experience of the safe and secure operation of nuclear power plants. The group was formed to prevent proliferation as a response when India tested thus the members of NSG should adhere the norms of the group.
Sidra Khan and Abd-ur-Rehman work for Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) in Islamabad, Pakistan.