ISLAMABAD -  Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua on Tuesday said that Pakistan was facing discrimination regarding its desired membership of the privileged Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Speaking at a one-day national seminar on “Strengthening strategic export controls by internal compliance” here, she said Pakistan was the most suitable applicant for the NSG.

“There is no country that is more suitable for this membership. We fulfil the whole criteria,” Janjua added.

Pakistan and India have applied to be members of the 48-member NSG that regulates global nuclear commerce.

While the US is backing India for the seat, China supports Pakistan.

Beijing maintains if India, a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, was given membership, then Pakistan too should be taken on board.

The NSG is a group that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of two sets of guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear-related exports.

The NSG guidelines also contain the so-called “Non-Proliferation Principle,” adopted in 1994, whereby a supplier, notwithstanding other provisions in the NSG Guidelines, authorises a transfer only when satisfied that the transfer would not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

India was optimistic to get a NSG membership last year due to support from the US but China’s opposition ensured it would have to wait a bit longer.

Leading American think tanks such as the Stimson Centre, the United States Institute of Peace and School of Advanced International Studies, believed India’s NSG application faced many roadblocks due to China’s determined bid to stop India from becoming an NSG member.

Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said India should not be given priority for the NSG as it was engaged in massive arms-buying spree.

He said India’s massive arms-buying spree, made it one of the top arms-importers in the world, and was driven by its desire for regional hegemony and global power status.

“Several international reports and independent observers have drawn attention to the rapid expansion in India’s capability to produce fissile material for military use, which has been made possible by the 2008 NSG waiver granted to India without appropriate non-proliferation safeguards and the subsequent nuclear deals struck with different countries,” Zakaria said.

He added: “We expect that as the NSG debates the membership of non-NPT states, it would take stock of the consequences of the 2008 exemption and avoid a repeat of the same mistake.”

Foreign Secretary Janjua reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to non-proliferation and disarmament, highlighted the continuing efforts, and stressed promotion of export control culture through implementation of guidelines on internal compliance.

She added that export controls “not only protect businesses from unauthorised end-users but also facilitate and encourage legitimate exports of hi-tech dual-use items for peaceful purposes.”

The national seminar was organised by the Strategic Export Control Division (SECDIV) – Ministry of the Foreign Affairs - to enhance government-industry cooperation, improve inter-agency coordination and highlight the importance of self-regulation for further improving the implementation of export control on goods, technologies, material and equipment related to nuclear and biological weapons and their Delivery Systems Act (Strategic Export Control Act, 2004).

Representatives from governmental departments, academia, research institutions and industry attended the seminar.

The seminar was part of the SECDIV routine outreach and awareness raising activities.