Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry has expressed Pakistan’s intent of making a bid for membership into the elite Nuclear Suppliers Club, claiming that Pakistan has the “credentials” to join the NSG and should be given the opportunity to work towards global non-proliferation. Islamabad is set to apply alongside New Delhi, considering that to maintain strategic balance and security in the region, Pakistan must do the needful. A face-off is likely to be expected in the consensus-based group next month as China and Pakistan are jointly opposing India’s bid for the NSG membership, with the United States backing its’ ally India, stating that it meets missile technology control regime requirements and is ready for entry into the exclusive club.

Most members of the 48-nation bloc shared the view that signing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was an important standard for the NSG’s expansion, a cornerstone without which membership to the NSG is very unlikely. India, Pakistan, Israel and South Sudan were the four UN member states that have not signed the NPT, the international pact aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. This makes both neighbouring states ‘illegible’ to apply. But at the end of the day entry into the NSG or any other bloc membership is much more about politics and balance of power rather than what seems at the face of it.

Realistically speaking Pakistan is still globally viewed as a place rife with terrorism and there remains a general perception that our nukes are not in safe hands despite repeated assurances. Till that perception changes and the country is rid of unsafe elements it is unlikely that other members agree to Pakistan’s bid for the membership, even if we set aside India and US opposition. Nonetheless if India makes a bid to become a member so will Pakistan, as this membership allows India to “procure more fuel and nuclear components”, an imbalance Pakistan and cannot afford nor allow. India already has the ear of the US and it has just gained second-strike capability, while Pakistan cant even get a good deal of its importation of F-16s from the US. While the membership will be a stretch, it must be lobbied for to keep the pressure on India, as well as to create enough of a diplomatic ruckus, that Indian aggression is actually seen as a problem by the global community.