As the Trump administration firms up its foreign policy objectives, quite a few lobbyists are working overtime to get Pakistan declared a state sponsor of terrorism.
And among them, no wonder, is Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States, Hussain Haqqani, who has coauthored a report for an American think tank, seeking Washington’s acquiescence in that “sometime in future, if not now.” Their grudge is that Pakistan is a nuclear-weapon state, and they insist its strategic assets can fall into the hands of terrorists. Not that it is a new song; we have heard it before.
But the difference now is that these anti-Pakistan campaigners believe that President Donald Trump is vulnerable to accepting so-called innovative suggestions. But that is not going to happen; Pakistan’s strategic assets are absolutely safe and secure. Pakistan has set up the Pakistan Centre of Excellence for Nuclear Security to strengthen its nuclear security regime, it is at par with international best practices. And as for the new administration in Washington, Pakistan has once again affirmed its commitment not to transfer weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) to other states or to non-state actors.
The occasion for the message, conveyed by the Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, was at the seminar in Islamabad on implementation of UN Security Resolution 1540. The resolution requires all states to implement measures aimed at preventing non-state actors from acquiring nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, and related materials, and their means of delivery. The focus of the two-day seminar, however, is to push for regional cooperation on the implementation of Resolution 1540 through “sharing of best practices and national experience.”
The very fact that Pakistan hosted the seminar is a manifestation of the country’s unwavering commitment that its strategic assets do not fall into wrong hands. Admitted that the entire region, Pakistan included, is in terrorism’s grip, but it is also a fact that Pakistan has fought and defeated terrorist outfits like no other country. That speaks of Pakistan’s strong will and determination and of the required wherewithal to protect its strategic assets.
But is there matching appreciation on the part of the international community of all what Pakistan has done to secure its nuclear arsenal? Not much to talk about. Rightly then, Sartaj Aziz has raised some questions as to why Pakistan is being denied admission into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The membership request it filed last May but it has not been considered yet because of the continuing stalemate over admission criteria for non-NPT states.
The problem is not with the suitability of Pakistan’s candidature; it is with the formula proposed by the facilitator of consultations between NSG members on the Indian and Pakistani applications – a conspiracy which, Sartaj Aziz said is “inherently designed to knock out Pakistan’s candidature.” What duplicity, that a backdoor is to be used to usher India in, the builder of thermonuclear weapons at its secret nuclear city, bypassing Pakistan’s veto at the Conference of Disarmament.
At the seminar, he pointedly argued that the states which possessed advanced capabilities – and they undisputedly include Pakistan – should have equal opportunity to participate in and contribute to the export control governance architecture. There needs to be a kind of balance between advancing the goals of non-proliferation and facilitating access of developing countries to strategic and dual use goods, materials and technologies for peaceful purposes under appropriate safeguards.
On its part, Pakistan has fairly advanced and time-tested, experience of safely running a number of nuclear power plants – expertise it, is prepared to share. And it is more than willing to offer technical assistance in this field to developing countries.