Japan and India are set to sign a controversial civil nuclear deal this week, as the allies look to boost economic and security ties to counter China’s growing influence in the region and in the international economy. The deal would allow Japan to export nuclear technology to the subcontinent, making India the first non-signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to agree such a nuclear deal with Japan, which has faced political backlash at home for agreeing to this deal. The deal will also help India’s case for membership into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as the string attached is that if India conducts a nuclear test, Japan will stop cooperation.

India had long been standing at the sidelines of the global nuclear community due to its being a non-signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. But, in seeking a stronger relationship with India, USA opened that door for them by signing a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with India in 2007, on certain conditions including India’s acceptance of the IAEA’s safeguard. In 2008, the NSG agreed to grant India a “clean waiver” from its rules, which forbid nuclear trade with a non-signatory of the NPT. Following the decision of the NSG, India started negotiations with several nations like Russia, France, UK and now Japan. This active foreign diplomacy and cooperation on India’s part is bound to promote its use of civil nuclear power, strengthening their economy multifold, which Pakistan sorely lacks.

The expected deal comes against a backdrop of growing insecurity concerns regarding China’s military presence in the disputed areas of the East and South China Sea and Indian Ocean region, parts of which Japan also claims.

And while finding a stronger ally in India is in Japan’s best interest for now, the larger beneficiary is undoubtedly India as an atomic deal with Japan will make it easier for US-based nuclear plant makers Westinghouse Electric Corporation and GE Energy Inc to set up atomic plants in India as both these conglomerates have Japanese investments.

Pakistan needs to evaluate its own foreign policy if it is to compete with India’s growing economic presence in the international market. While China is the perfect partner to have in all this, India’s smaller partnerships give it a much bigger image boost than anything Pakistan has going for itself. India has taken the smarter route of putting its energies towards improving its nuclear power for civil purposes, we continue to boast about our expanse of nuclear arms we are most likely to never use.