Islamabad - Pakistan will contest for membership right of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in the World Nuclear Summit slated for next month in Washington in the interest of strategic stability in South Asia.
Well-placed diplomatic sources told The Nation on Friday that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will lead a delegation to the World Nuclear Summit being hosted by the United States.
Foreign Office is busy finalising the speech the prime minister will deliver at the summit seeking waiver for Pakistan’s membership to the NSG and will interact with important leaders of the suppliers group on the margin of the summit.
Islamabad feels encouraged to contest its right this time around after the United States gave a clean chit to Pakistan’s nuclear programme last year as safe and secured one, meeting the standards and practices of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) including the non-proliferation regime.
Islamabad has been making efforts to seek a similar waiver granted to India after the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Deal in 2005 which Pakistan says has upset the strategic stability in South Asia.
Pakistan’s demand for NSG membership also gained significance following the energy crunch it is facing and wants to use nuclear energy to meet future needs.
“We will not accept such discrimination anymore and will seek criteria-based treatment to Pakistan ,” Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said while addressing a seminar yesterday on launch of Nuclear Paper Series, a new publication of the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI).
Mr Chaudhry said Pakistan is a peace loving and responsible nuclear state which fully deserves NSG membership , adding that it was compelled to acquire nuclear deterrence in the face of grave threat to its national security.
He said the country's nuclear facilities are placed under IAEA safeguards and Pakistan fully adheres to the standards set by the international agency. He made it clear that Pakistan does not want arms race in the region at all, and its nuclear programme is defence-oriented based on the concept of minimum deterrence.
The foreign secretary said membership of the group is essential for Pakistan to achieve the energy production goal of Vision-2050.
Earlier, ISSI Director General Masood Khan in his welcome remarks said that Pakistan and India, both non-NPT nuclear weapons states, should enter into the NSG simultaneously on the basis of a single criterion.
“Double standards should not be applied”, Ambassador Masood said, adding that Pakistan should be given space to pursue its legitimate nuclear trade and participate in the work of export control regimes.
He said that Pakistan should pursue a dialogue for a civil nuclear deal with the US, but not at the expense of the legitimate growth and refinement of its nuclear programme. “There should be no pricey preconditions for Pakistan to get what India was given pro bono”, he added.
Key speaker of the seminar Khalid Banuri Banuri, the director general of Arms Control and Disarmament Affairs (ACDA), said that unlike India, Pakistan does not consider its nuclear weapons one of prestige, but a weapon of security. He said Pakistan has always made a consistent effort to ensure that sensitive technologies, material and equipment remain in the stringent control in the international spirit of non-proliferation.
Three reports – Pakistan in the Global Nuclear Order, Pakistan and India: Nuclear Non-Proliferation Credentials, and Strategic Stability in South Asia: Challenges and Prospects – were presented on the occasion.
In his concluding remarks, Chairman of the Institute, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood said that Pakistan is a responsible nuclear power. He said Pakistan does not have any aggressive designs and its main objective is self-defence and economic progress and it is high time to mainstream Pakistan into the international nuclear order.