India is one of the few nuclear-armed countries without an independent nuclear regulator. Pakistan had extensive experience in maintaining an independent nuclear regulatory body. Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry proposed on Thursday a partnership with India on nuclear safety and security. Such a partnership will force India to be monitored, and that may not fly with their government. As impractical as this sounds, as a sound bite this statement by the Foreign Secretary is laudable. It portrays Pakistan as being open to the ultimate end of disarmament, and puts the ball in India’s court to accept or reject such a benevolent offer.

If minimal credible deterrence is actually what India wants, it makes sense to slow down the race to arm itself. There is a growing conventional imbalance between Pakistan and India with the introduction of tactical nuclear weapons, nuclearisation of Indian Ocean region and Indian plans for ballistic missile defence. It is a fact that the deepening Indo-US defence and strategic cooperation has disturbed the strategic balance in South Asia and China will join the arms race. India cannot rival China’s sea power, just as China cannot rival US naval abilities. Further arming only sparks off a chain of conflict. While we may be the weakest state, India, China and the US have much to lose from Indian aggression. Not that the US can realise that, the country has always seen monsters where there are none. The Americans are prone to overreacting about security threats. Pakistan does not deserve American supported nukes in its face from India. China has no aggressive designs against the US, except for supremacy in the South China seas dominated by the US. China wants control not for military purposes, but to make sure the US cannot create naval economic blockades for Chinese goods to South East Asian and Pacific rim states.

The issue at hand is the membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), and this new proposal is a soft way for Pakistan to show the world that India does not have nuclear weapons for peace. Pakistan said it would agree to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty if India did, but India refused regardless. While Pakistan may want disarmament, India clearly does not and NSG membership will give its program and false rhetoric of peace more legitimacy.

Pakistan last month proposed a bilateral moratorium on testing of nuclear weapons. The proposal for a bilateral moratorium was related to Pakistan’s candidature for the NSG- an act to show responsibility in nuclear management. India has made no such gestures. But unfortunately, in international relations good intentions matter less than power games and deep pockets.