Making India an NSG member state will be a mistake

Published: June 16, 2016
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China, a devoted friend of Pakistan’s, has stated its condition to support India only if Pakistan is also elected as a member state.

Recently, India initiated efforts to become a member state of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Correspondingly, Pakistan — in an attempt to subdue India — has also submitted an application in its desire to join the club. However, both countries don’t meet the prerequisites to join the NSG. I personally believe that Pakistan needs to focus on stability rather than gaining access to this group.

NSG restricts the proliferation of nuclear weapons by controlling nuclear commerce. India, the fastest growing economy in the world, has a huge population and an enormous demand for energy. It has various domestic nuclear industries that require international exposure for them to expand their businesses.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, rightfully, initiated a ‘make in India’ programme to create jobs and boost technology. This program plans to produce reactors in India with Moscow’s assistance and sell them to various countries.

The aforementioned reasons sum up India’s keenness to obtain NSG’s membership. Once India is granted admission, it will be in a great position to meet its goals. On the other hand, Pakistan’s foreign policy has put forth no such strategic goals in order to gain membership into the club.

India already enjoys benefits similar to NGS’s existing member states, for which reason several member governments have opposed its membership. Washington has a nuclear cooperation deal with India (only after it made an amendment in its law) which granted NSG rules for India in order to take part in civilian nuclear trade. This step was regarded as unequal treatment by the member governments, so much so that it led to massive opposition, but the issue was settled as a result of tactful US diplomacy.

The reason for not supporting India’s inclusion in the group is because these member states do not back Indian delegates. It could be owing to unfair treatment, considering these countries themselves have formally submitted a request for becoming members. These countries include New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa, Austria and China.

China, a devoted friend of Pakistan, has stated its condition to support India only if Pakistan is also elected as a member state. Trust good ol’ China to back us during testing times. The fact is, India has a growing consumer market, and India and China both benefit from bilateral trade. Subsequently, it is naturally expected that China will support India’s admission into the group over the course of time.

Nevertheless, Modi’s recent fast paced visits to significant member countries ended up in gathering important recommendations from these states. India has been an ally of the United States for a long time now and therefore, the US supports India on this occasion. It is obvious Modi had thought this through.

Even during his previous two visits, in 2010 and 2015, President Barack Obama gave encouraging statements in support of India regarding this issue. Moreover, recent meetings between the two leaders ended up in a 100 per cent support for the hoping-for-membership state. Other countries who support India are France, UK, Russia, Switzerland, Japan and Mexico was the latest addition to this list.

Making India a member state will be evidence of poor management by the NSG governing members.

Why?

Due to perceptive diplomacy, India has been exempted from NSG laws and has made great leaps and bounds in the production of its nuclear weaponry. Therefore, the decision to admit India will clearly reflect on the integrity of the governing members. NSG does not allow member states to trade with countries that are non-signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and India is amongst the countries who have not signed this treaty.

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In contrast, Pakistan will surely benefit from NSG membership by trading nuclear materials with the global community. Our inclusion will also prove to be economically beneficial.

Leaving the obvious benefits aside, there are also factors that may create an obstruction for Pakistan in gaining NSG membership.

So far Pakistan has not been able to set up its own nuclear reactors without assistance from other countries. The first reactor was provided by Canada in 1971, while the other two reactors were provided by China. One of the foremost questions that come to mind is; is Pakistan capable of being self -sufficient?

Moreover, Pakistan is rumoured to have supplied nuclear secrets to defiant countries such as North Korea, Libya and Iran which undermines the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons clause of NSG.

One of the reasons Pakistan wishes to join NSG is to access nuclear materials that are not manufactured in Pakistan. The country manufactures heavy water, nuclear manipulators, maraging steel and zirconium, but not in enough abundance to export it. This requirement can be fulfilled by establishing a civilian nuclear cooperation deal with the international community without being a member of the NSG.

Pakistan should stop competing with its rival neighbour — India — and focus more on its fundamental concerns. Illiteracy, unemployment, an on-going energy crisis, poverty, corruption, poor health care and terrorism are among the top issues that the government needs to resolve. Unlike India, Pakistan still stands nowhere on eradicating its core problems. Owing to these reasons, it should not be eyeing membership of the club at the moment.

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Lastly, Pakistan should be targeting its stability issues and independence. Our country has a shaky and uncertain global image and that is why other countries do not back our choices. Pakistan has a history of military coups, an unsteady law and order situation and political uncertainty, which does not support our application for being its member. In the end, it all comes down to the phrase,

“Actions speak louder than words.”

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Azhar Saeed

Azhar Saeed

The author has done his bachelors in Political Science from LUMS. He has an interest in world affairs and cricket. He tweets as @theazharsaeed (twitter.com/theazharsaeed)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.