ISLAMABAD - Pakistan desires a fair and unbiased consideration of its application for the membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) alongside that of India.

This was stated by Zahir Kazmi, Director Strategic Plans Division (SPD), at a roundtable discussion organised by Centre for International Strategic Studies (CISS) on the NSG annual meeting. The roundtable discussion was attended by representatives of think tanks, academics, retired diplomats and military officials.

“Pakistan wants simultaneous entry into the NSG with other non-NPT states that aspire to participate in the group. This would require a fair and simultaneous consideration of the two membership applications submitted by the non-NPT states,” Kazmi said while cautioning against country-specific exemption for India by the global nuclear trade cartel, which he observed was becoming “highly politicised” because of its track record of discriminatory attitude towards non-NPT states.

The SPD director pointed out that Pakistan fulfilled all criteria for NSG membership except for the NPT requirement, which India too does not meet.

“Pakistan’s application stands on solid grounds of technical experience, capability and well-established commitment to nuclear safety and security. We have a complete program for harnessing peaceful uses nuclear energy and have operated secure and safeguarded power plants for 42 years,” he said while talking about Pakistan’s credentials for NSG membership.

Kazmi underscored that a non-discriminatory approach towards NSG expansion would not only ensure strategic stability in South Asia, but would also serve the cause of international non-proliferation efforts.

He hoped that the NSG members would not give an impression of imposing “a technological and political apartheid” on Pakistan by denying it access to high-end technologies. The world, he said, instead should be seen as supporting sustainable development in Pakistan.

Former Permanent Representative at the United Nations in Geneva Ambassador (Retd) Zamir Akram, speaking on this occasion, said India was enjoying a free ride because of political and geo-strategic considerations of United States and other Western countries. The US, he said, has come up with ‘like-mindedness’ and ‘merit-based approach’ to help India overcome the criteria shortcoming. He was of the view that India did not even meet the politically motivated merit of the new US approach, if applied honestly, because of its proliferation record for which it remained sanctioned and not fulfilling the obligations it committed while getting the 2008 NSG waiver.

Akram believed that the issue of NSG membership would not end in Seoul and hence the government should have a planned strategy for dealing with it.

Executive Director CISS Sarwar Naqvi said that Pakistan had been engaging with NSG since 2005, but filed a formal application for admission only after India did so. He expected that NSG would not immediately grant membership to the applicants, but would go for a long drawn process that could involve vetting of the credentials of the candidate countries.

“Pakistan will stand a good chance of getting a favourable consideration,” he expected.