Pakistan on Thursday strongly reacted to a proposal by former chairman of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which intends to pave the way for India’s entry into the elite club of nuclear trading countries, saying the Group should not be driven by commercial and political interests that trump its non-proliferation objectives.
In his weekly media briefing, Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said that Pakistan always had a principled stance on entry of the new members into the NSG and sought criteria-based and non-discriminatory approach.
“The NSG is at a critical juncture. NSG members bear a heavy responsibility. It is important for the credibility of the NSG and the future of the non-proliferation regime that the NSG be seen as a rule-based organisation rather than a grouping which is driven by commercial and political considerations that trump its non-proliferation objectives,” he stated when his comments were sought on the proposal prepared by the NSG ex-chairman, Rafael Mariano Grossi.
Zakaria said that Pakistan continues to stress the imperative for a non-discriminatory criteria-based approach for NSG membership of non-NPT states in a non-discriminatory manner. Such a criteria-based approach will further the non-proliferation objective of the NSG as well as the objective of strategic stability in South Asia, he said, adding Pakistan has consistently highlighted its strong credentials that meet NSG criteria and the efforts towards Pakistan’s application for membership are continuing.
However, he clarified that Grossi’s proposal is an internal document of the NSG, which has not been shared with Pakistan and is being discussed within the Group. “We understand that the NSG countries are still discussing the document and there is no consensus on it within the NSG,” he said.
Referring to the experts’ opinion, he stated that the proposal seeks to propose the 2008 NSG exemption for India as a requirement for NSG membership. “This would be clearly discriminatory and would contribute nothing in terms of furthering the non-proliferation objectives of the NSG,” he added. To a question, he said that there are certain states which are supporting the India’s NSG membership.
However, no NSG member has opposed Pakistan’s principled position for a non-discriminatory criteria-based approach, he added. “In fact, there is growing traction for Pakistan’s position. We are reaching out to all NSG members, which are increasingly acknowledging the merits of our argument for stronger standards for IAEA safeguards and other non-proliferation measures, which can plug the loopholes left in the 2008 exemption for India,” he added.
To another query about water issues with India, he said that Pakistan is closely monitoring the situation and will respond accordingly to any India’s violation of Indus Water Treaty (IWT), adding the treaty cannot be altered or revoked unilaterally.
He called upon the international community to take notice of Indian activities and statements that are a violation of India’s obligations and commitments under the treaty. He said that IWT has a comprehensive mechanism for dispute resolution and Pakistan adheres to that mechanism. “It is binding on both India and Pakistan and has no exit provision,” he added.
When asked to comment on Indian Prime Minister Modi’s greetings to Prime Minister Sharif on his birthday, he said that Pakistan is pursuing the policy of peaceful neighbourhood as envisioned by the Prime Minister. “We want to amicably resolve all outstanding issues including Kashmir with India. Unfortunately our positive overtures have not been reciprocated by India. The UN has a responsibility to ensure resolution of Kashmir dispute and peace in the region,” he said, adding the international community, particularly the major powers, should play their due role to that end.
The spokesperson also expressed serious concerns at the situation in Indian-held Kashmir, saying India is trying to change the demography of the IHK by settling non-locals there which is violation of UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir and human rights. He said India is also violating the UNSC resolutions and the UN Charter by perpetrating state terrorism against innocent Kashmiris and committing crimes against humanity.
To another query, he said that trilateral meeting among Pakistan, China and Russia in Moscow on December 27 was aimed to hold informal discussion on issues of regional peace and stability and situation in Afghanistan.
To the Afghan government’s concerns at the trilateral meeting, he said that Afghanistan has been invited to join the mechanism and hoped that it could remove its concerns. He further said that there are many initiatives in the context of efforts to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan.
On the new Israeli settlement, he said that Pakistan wants amicable solution of the Palestine issue. “We extended support to the Palestinian cause in the past and maintain that policy,” he added.
To another query, he said Pakistan has taken up very strongly the case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui with the US authorities and still extending all sorts of consular assistance whenever needed. About the reported Iranian merchant ship, named MV Joya, with Pakistani crew aboard being hit by a rocket in Yemeni waters, he said that despite various efforts to verify the news, the occurrence of the incident could not be established.
Zakaria also described the inauguration of Chashma-III nuclear power plant as an important landmark in Pakistan’s drive towards meeting country’s ever growing energy demand and further strengthening of Pakistan-China friendship and mutually beneficial relationship.