NSG’s discriminatory approach to affect strategic balance

Amid the United States backing to India’s bid to join Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Pakistan on Thursday declared that any country-specific exception for non-NPT countries will not be beneficial for non-proliferation regime and the objective of strategic stability in South Asia.

In his weekly media briefing, Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria insisted that Pakistan’s NSG application stands on solid grounds of technical experience, capability and well-established commitment to nuclear safety.

He pointed out that Pakistan had operated secure and safeguarded nuclear power plants for over 42 years. Safe and sustainable civil nuclear energy was essential for Pakistan’s future energy security and its economic development, he added.

He said Pakistan’s NSG membership was in the interest of nuclear trading countries as it will further promote the group’s non-proliferation objectives by the inclusion of a state with nuclear supply capabilities and its adherence to the NSG guidelines.

There are a large number of NSG participating governments, which support the adoption of a non-discriminatory, equitable and criteria-based approach when dealing with the question of membership of countries that have not been a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), he said.

“We are, therefore, hopeful that the NSG decision for expansion in membership for non-NPT countries will be for an even-handed approach since any country-specific exception will not be beneficial for the non-proliferation regime, the objective of strategic stability in South Asia or the credibility of NSG itself,” he said.

To a question about Indian RAW’s subversive activities in Pakistan, he said that the arrest of a serving officer of RAW had vindicated Pakistan’s long standing position that Indian intelligence agencies were involved in subversive and terrorist activities in Pakistan especially Balochistan and Karachi.

“Our security agencies are fully aware of all threats and are actively working to counter them, wherever required,” he said. He said that investigations from the arrested RAW agent were still in progress and the world community would be apprised accordingly.

“Necessary actions have been taken based on Kulbushan’s confessions and I am aware that many arrests have been taken place,” he added. Commenting on Indian Prime Minister Modi’s statement that “Problem of unending terror limits the way forward in peace with Pakistan, Zakaria said that the phenomenon of terrorism has affected Pakistan more than any other country in the world, adding terrorism has affected both the countries.

“We have deeper concern over foreign hands behind perpetration of terrorist attacks and terrorist financing in Pakistan…Pakistan is ready for dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” he said. In addition to other issues, the dialogue would include the discussion on terrorism, he added.

Responding to another query about the FIR lodged by family members of a second man targeted in recent US drone attack in Balochistan, which also killed Taliban chief Mullah Mansour, he said that under Pakistan’s Constitution, every citizen has the right to legal recourse in case of any injustice or harm to a citizen or his/her family.

“The Judiciary in Pakistan is independent and the legal system will follow its course on the complaint lodged,” he added. Asked to comment on US President Obama’s statement that “‘Taliban should forget about ruling Afghanistan”, he said Pakistan firmly believes in the respect for the political independence of sovereign states, which is also guaranteed in the UN Charter.

“We believe that peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan should be an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process. Pakistan’s support is based on that premise,” he said, adding a politically-negotiated settlement among all stakeholders, including Taliban, is the best and sustainable solution for peace in Afghanistan.

He said that the Afghan people have suffered long enough and Pakistan supports all efforts aimed at achieving that objective. About the current status of Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG), he said that the QCG has a very important role to play and the mechanism is very much in place, adding all the members including Afghanistan have been supporting the group and consider it a useful forum for facilitating the Afghan peace process.

“Pakistan has been engaged in sincere and consistent efforts for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. We welcome all efforts toward peace in Afghanistan. It is in Pakistan’s interest, therefore, we believe that a politically negotiated settlement is a viable option for achieving the goal of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan,” he said.

He stated that the use of military force and violence didn’t provide a solution to the conflict in Afghanistan for the last fifteen years and it is unlikely to bring peace in future as well. “We believe that the military approach will further destabilise Afghanistan.

We have repeatedly said that all parties at war should refrain from violence since violence begets violence,” he added. On the new travel guidelines on Torkham border, he rejected the impression that these were restrictions but border management measures.

“We need to check whether the persons coming in have legitimate reasons to come to Pakistan as well as requisite documents,” he said. Similarly, we also need to check the reasons and the necessary documents of the persons going to Afghanistan, he said, adding there are some humanitarian exceptions like patients and students who are studying in Pakistan.

Regarding CPEC, he said that the investment of $46 billion was very significant and has often been called a “game changer” and a “fate changer”. “One usually sees commitments of this nature but not the implementation.

CPEC is a reality and it will be implemented with success,” he said, adding CPEC is essentially a development programme and the benefits of the project would not only be limited to Pakistan and China but would positively affect the whole region.  –Business Recorder