By Ali Raza
To promote peace and stability and in an attempt to eradicate the nuclear and conventional arms race in the region, Pakistan has always given positive gestures to India and international community. In such an attempt, to foster peace and stability in the region, Pakistan has recently offered India for a bi-lateral arrangement on non-testing of nuclear weapons. The Advisor to Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Sartaj Aziz, in the last month has advanced a proposal to India for simultaneous adherence to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). This is not the first time that Pakistan has given such a proposal to India, Pakistan had also advanced such a proposal in 1998 upon which India had not responded in a positive manner.
Such repeated gestures from Pakistan clearly manifest that the Nuclear Program of Pakistan was never initiated for offensive purposes or to gain undue advantage over the other states, it was only initiated for the purposes of its defense. Secondly, Pakistan never wanted to enter in the arms race at the cost of peace and development of the people of the region. In addition, the sacrifices made by Pakistan in war against terrorism are not hidden by anyone. The marvelous steps like Zarb-e-Azb, a joint military action carried out by Pakistan Armed Forces, to eradicate the terrorist groups, and to make this world a better place to live have also received support and applaud from international community.
The aforementioned facts clearly testify that Pakistan is a peace loving country, which is desirous of leaving no stone unturned to forward and strengthen peace, prosperity and development of people of the region, but at the same time, Pakistan is also conscious and mindful of defending itself from any external aggression.
On the other hand, it was India, which became the core reason of the creation of Nuclear Supply Group when it conducted the nuclear explosion in 1974 at Pokhran, and termed it a peaceful explosion in an untruthful and obstinate manner. India has also demonstrated to the world at large that nuclear technology transferred for peaceful purposes could be misused. This fact is also not hidden from anyone that it was India, which, at first, while attempting to give an impression that it is keenly interested in nuclear non-proliferation regime, contributed heavily in the preparation of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but thereafter refused to sign it in a deceptive manner.
India must not blame other countries as it remained unsuccessful in getting membership in the elite nuclear club. It were instead the actions and choices (as elaborated in the preceding para) that India had made in the past, which have prevented it from securing membership. This is evident from the fact that NSG had failed to achieve consensus on Indian application at its last plenary in Seoul, because some members of the elite group insisted on adhering to the NPT criteria for new membership, while some members criticized India on non-fulfilling the commitments it made while getting NSG waiver in 2008. Some member countries have also raised the concerns regarding India’s progress towards CTBT and also separation of its civilian and military nuclear reactors and reports about the safety of nuclear programme.
Since both the countries, i.e. India and Pakistan, are desirous of getting entry into the meritorious Nuclear Supply Group, therefore, they should take such steps and enter into such arrangements that could reflect to the international community that any transfer of nuclear material to these states would never contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, but such a transfer would only advance the development and prosperity of people of the region.
A bilateral arrangement on non-testing will also send a positive signal to the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) countries, which are discussing the non-proliferation commitments of non-NPT states in relation to the question of membership. The Foreign Office of Pakistan had said last month that Pakistan’s proposal to India for bilateral moratorium on nuclear testing is aimed at preventing arms race in the region and strengthening non-proliferation credentials of countries that are not NPT signatories. But, India is not expected to respond positively to the bona fide Pakistani proposal as it has not accepted an earlier Pakistani proposal for Strategic Restraint Regime.
Keeping in view the aforementioned facts, it can be safely concluded that if compared with India, Pakistan is comparatively a strong candidate to get entry into the Nuclear Supply Group being ready to enter into Strategic Restrain Regime with India and ready to adhere to CTBT jointly with India.
*Ali Raza is a visiting faculty member at Air University, Islamabad. He holds masters degree in Strategic and Nuclear Studies (S&NS) from National Defense University, Islamabad. His area of research includes Strategic Stability, Arms control and disarmament and Non-Proliferation. His opinion articles appear in national and international newspapers, blogs and websites. He can be reached at [email protected]