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Forthcoming NSG plenary meeting: Prospects for Pakistan-India candidacy

By Asma Khalid

Trajectory of Non- Proliferation regime is most likely to be determined in forthcoming (27th) plenary session of NSG.  Nuclear cartel of 48-member states deals with the export of nuclear material and Nuclear related technology. According to the NSG guidelines, membership of group requires that states should be a member of Non-Proliferation treaty in order to get the membership of group. Both India and Pakistan is aspirant to get the membership of NSG.  Since the membership application of India-Pakistan, debated over inclusion of Non-NPT has been intensified.

Support of Major Powers to India by providing waiver by US, India’s intensive diplomatic efforts and introduction of discriminatory Grossi formula to support the Indian bid for NSG membership has shaken the India-Pakistan’s bilateral dialogue on nuclear matters and such discriminatory approach has undermined the spirit of global Non-proliferation regime.  Though, despite of presenting the discriminatory proposal on December 6, 2016, support of major powers and China’s demand for unbiased non-discriminatory approach, India’s inclusion in NSG is reached on critical stage. In this regard the question arises that what will be the prospects for Pakistan India candidacy in forthcoming NSG-plenary meeting? And what are the policy options for Pakistan to promote its stance to counter the resistance in getting the NSG-membership.

Both India and Pakistan are determined to get the membership of NSG for three significant reasons: economic, political and strategic.  Membership of NSG is top priority of India as it will enhance India’s prestige in global affairs as well as it will allow the India to actively play its role in international arena for export and import of nuclear related technology. On the other side, NSG membership will ensure economic, political and technological benefits for Pakistan. Secondly, providing any special exemption from NSG principle to India and ignoring Pakistan’s bid will disturb the strategic balance in South Asia. Due to these multiple dimensions both Non-NPT states are making rigorous efforts to get the membership of nuclear cartel.

Trends have revealed that both India and Pakistan will face tough resistance in getting the NSG membership in 27th plenary meeting.  Because, NSG works on consensus and member states has remained dividend on the matter of NSG membership. It has remained dividend on US and Chinese position spite of India’s extensive lobbying with the countries since last meeting of NSG. Notwithstanding proactive lobby, India is failed to win Chain’s support for NSG membership as China is stick to its stance and demand for non-discriminatory criteria-based approach. On the other side, US claim that India being a like-minded country deserves to be included in the group just to serve its own defence and strategic objectives. So despite of US backing and Indian proactive diplomatic efforts, global politics and recent developments have indicated that India may not receive special benefit against the mandate and spirit of NSG in forthcoming plenary. And it will be another setback for India and getting the membership of group will be a difficult task for both India as well as Pakistan. It is also perceived that US and India will increased their efforts to convince member states including china without considering the impact of such policies for region and global efforts of Non-proliferation.

Subsequently, Significance of forthcoming plenary for Pakistan cannot be ignored and it is imperative that it should not give up its quest for membership. Though China’s official stance support the Pakistan’s candidature but it is important for Pakistan to maintain its resilience and sustainability in its strategy regarding membership of nuclear cartel. For this purpose policy options for Pakistan includes: First, Economic engagement and need to project itself as a great economic incentive for other states. Second, Pakistan need to adopt more proactive foreign policy and diplomacy to cater the support for Pakistan’s bid in nuclear group.

Though debate over membership of Non-NPT states has reached on critical stage as despite of improved nuclear credentials, Pakistan is facing discriminatory attitude and country-specific approach has been followed by US to support India.  Yet, Pakistan should not give up its efforts and need to constantly move towards its ambitions. Such strategy will send the message to international community that Pakistan is not in hurry, it is working and has maintained the balanced pace to get the recognition as responsible member of the nuclear cartel.

Asma Khalid is a Research Associate at Strategic Vision Institute, a think-tank based in Islamabad.

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