After the 1974 explosions by India, it was convinced by nuclear governments that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) alone would be fruitless in preventing the spread of nuclear technology by other states keeping in mind the developments carried out by these states like India. So, keeping in mind the existing situation at that time the nuclear states formed the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Since then, the NSG has become world’s leading multilateral nuclear export control arrangement, establishing guidelines that govern transfers of nuclear-related materials, equipment and technology. The developments that took place in these decades inflicted a number of challenges to NSG ranging from questions about its credibility and future membership to its relationship to the NPT and other multilateral arrangements.

For the past few months, international media was abuzz with news of intense nuclear diplomacy by Pakistan India to build support for their respective cases for gaining Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership.

As both countries have applied for membership in the group that reinforces NPT’s core objective of preventing proliferation of nuclear weapons. However, choosing India-only preferential approach or admitting both (Pakistan and India) on the basis of specifically developed non-proliferation criteria is the biggest dilemma NSG is double squeezed with.

Nonetheless, the NSG as a regime sacrificed its non-proliferation principle in fulfilling the commercial and geo-political interests by giving preferential treatment to a few member states. Also by granting an unprecedented and country-specific exemption to India has led the door open to have nuclear cooperation with NSG since 2008.

It is well established that NSG exemption was driven by the US interests to build India as a regional counter-weight to China. The peculiar strategy of using India as a counterweight policy of US is in total disregards of how this NSG exemption would impact the regional stability in South Asia. This exemption to India also affected the credibility of NSG, to work as an effective non-proliferation institution.

The miserable and shambolic NSG exemption to India without compensating NSG’s standards has weakened NSG along with the broader nuclear non-proliferation regime. Interestingly, dominant non-proliferation experts have argued against bending rules in favour of India. With all this, numbers of key US officials have also warned against the renewed arms race in South Asia in response to this preferential treatment being awarded to India. All it shows is that this exemption is not universally popular; there remains a great deal of unease with the India-specific approach.

The NSG race does not portend well for the whole Asian region. India’s presence in the NSG would cast a cloud over peace and stability in the entire Asia-Pacific region keeping in mind the scale of the power and ambitions. The group has to comprehend the motivations of India in quest of membership and assess whether they conform to its non-proliferation objectives.

For instance, a meeting was held between counterparts from both sides (NSG and India). Views regarding transfers related to sensitive nuclear technologies such as Enrichment and Reprocessing (ENR) was discussed. Interestingly, Indian officials warned that the “Proposed restrictions on transfer of sensitive nuclear items are a 'derogation', 'rollback' of US commitments”. Officials from Indian side claimed that they won ‘clean waiver’ in 2008 from the cartels restrictive export rules, with full access to such technologies. Whereas, as per the revision of 2011 NSG guidelines, ENR transfers are not permissible to non-NPT states. It proves that the basic aspiration in getting the membership is to become a global power.

There is no doubt that India’s continuous rise to great and global power status is only aided by the United States to keep the global strategic balance in Washington’s favour. What kind of power is India today? Since it lacks serious extra regional power projection capabilities, does not decisively dominate its own region, and is not a system shaping power in either economic or military balance terms. But it is dependent on the blessings of what US has been given them to rise as a great power.

To encourage the NSG to consider issues that have a significant impact on its future credibility and effectiveness, non-proliferation regimes has to get their strategy right. After all if India is indeed accepted to NSG it would be then difficult to control its nuclear and missile programme that is strenuously increasing. So, keeping in mind the intense environment of region, Pakistan like India must be considered as a potential candidate for NSG to create a stable and static environment.