The Nuclear Supplier Group or the NSG is a multilateral export control regime and a set of nuclear supplier countries that look forward to prevent nuclear proliferation, containing 48 countries including most nuclear power states and other states, that have came together on one table with the pledge of controlling the export of materials, equipment and technology that can be employed to manufacture nuclear weapons.
The NSG was founded in the result of Indian nuclear testing in May 1974 with its first official meeting held in November 1975 seeing the need of further limitations to be set upon the export of nuclear weaponry. This group stands for mobilizing useful nuclear technology within the cluster of nations that are the members of the group and producing technology that benefits their societies collectively i.e. through non-destructive nuclear use.
Both Pakistan and India look forward in becoming the members of the NSG. Both countries applied for it in 2016.
India has been given favor by the NSG regarding its membership in the group. Most nations of the group have approved Indian membership into it. India has been given exemptions towards the proceeding of its membership. India has also been issues a waver with its case being championed by the United States for India’s certain attributes.
On the other hand, even though Pakistan has presented its criteria report, has attained a middle position over the topic of nuclear. Has an “all good” policy towards nuclear, advocates the CTBT (Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty) – if seconded by India- approach, yet her position is very vague for membership in the NSG, mainly for political reasons. All reactors of Pakistan are under the safeguards of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). Except China and few other countries, yet, we are opposed membership in the group. Pakistan tried to present the case of Indian nuclear security trying to prove itself more careful for rules and regulations of nuclear safety where India’s policies have anomalies like the reactor grade plutonium system, India’s safeguard agreement i.e. they do not follow the set of certain principles laid down by IAEA etc, but remains unsuccessful.
The exemptions that were given to India in 2008 were a backlash towards the security and stability of South Asia, as said by China, who advocated the fact that no country shall be given the membership of the NSG until or unless it is not a part of the NPT (Non Proliferation Treaty). Be it India or be it Pakistan, both must sign the NPT to be accepted by China for membership. The eligibility of membership in NSG lies within the fact that either a given state shall be a member of NPT or have at least 5 nuclear free zones- both of which India and Pakistan fail to meet as of now.
The only reservation Pakistan holds for not signing the NPT is that India has not yet signed it either.
China also advocates the point that if India is given membership, Pakistan too, must be assured of its membership; inequality shall not take place between any parties for the NSG. Since opposition to any one group will result in the undermining of strategic stability of the region both dwell in? Though, it is debatable to have both nuclear armed countries inside the NSG rather outside it for assurance of security of their region.
The points here arise that why Pakistan is not being given membership, is it because India holds a greater significance in the geopolitical arena than does Pakistan? It certainly does. Also the fact that India does not have pressure groups that can misuse the technology that might come into hand after NSG starts trading like the Taliban in Pakistan, other minority religious groups, players of multiple nations invested in the disability of Pakistan etc.
It is also to be noted that Pakistan has not significantly advocated the positive use of nuclear weapons since its attainment. Pakistan has been interested more in making arms out of nuclear power rather than its multitude useful characteristics. It has been focused too much on weaponry to attain full spectrum deterrence (which would also be put into question if India is successful in getting membership of NSG and Pakistan doesn’t). Pakistan did not construct even one internationally recognized nuclear diagnose based hospital for treatment cancer or other ailments that can be cured by nuclear power very effectively.
Pakistan cannot employ what India has towards its stronger position in NSG and global politics since it simply lacks the resources and means to do so. What Pakistan can do to make its image clear and secure its membership in the NSG is advocate the useful utilization of nuclear rather than only making arms out of it. As an illustration, the fact is to be kept in mind that nuclear power will cost only 7-/Rs per unit electricity, much cheaper than the other means she uses, also since Pakistan is a country drowning in power crisis, it could be of great help. Nuclear energy can be utilized in agriculture-since that’s what runs Pakistan’s economy- to produce better, tougher crops. Another option is to introduce leverages and explore better relation opportunities with countries like South Korea, who has been chairing the IAEA. Pakistan can also work towards bettering its issues of national governance that currently lack political intellect.
Repeat of the discriminatory policy towards Pakistan after adopting all these measures will be a negative approach towards the whole scenario and principles of policy of the NPT. One must not expect discrimination if all mentioned exercise is done by Pakistan to get its membership. Yet, whatever we are willing to do for our membership; it must strictly be keep in mind the sequence of acceptance of India into the NSG (leverages to the waver) to question if differentiated again.
*Hareem Aqdas, Researcher, Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad, Pakistan.