Pakistan and India seem to be inching towards membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) with both nations having made strong applications to the body and having received the support of powerful member nations. But considering the political tension between the two nations and the fact that the supporters of both nations also block the passage of the other, there is still a long way to go.

Recently, US media reported that Rafael Mariano Grossi, a former chairman of the NSG, had prepared a two-page document, explaining how a non-NPT state, like India and Pakistan, could join the group. The document is not official nor does it represent the viewpoint of the NSG but since Mr Grossi is acting on behalf of the current chairman, Song Young-wan of South Korea, it can be said that the document enjoys a semi-official status. The purported agreement between Pakistan and India not to block each other’s bid would ensure passage of both, and since Pakistan’s contention has always been a biased standard with which the two nations are treated when it came to NSG membership, it can be expected that Pakistan will not object to it.

However, it has been suggested that the proposals by Mr Grossi are not so simple. According to Daryl Kimball, executive director of The Arms Control Association (ACA) – a US-based arms control organisation – the draft proposal paves the way for India’s entry but leaves Pakistan out, by requiring Pakistan to take steps and precautions that he believes India has already taken. This would be tantamount to blocking Pakistan from membership, because “to engage in civil nuclear trade with NSG states, it would have to win a separate NSG exemption from the full-scope safeguards requirement”.

This is the assessment of one independent body and the document has not been presented as the official NSG stance, so the final product may be different. But if it stays this way, and Pakistan is forced to seek a separate exemption, then we are faced with the same impasse that was witnessed in the Seoul NSG plenary – where India’s membership was blocked by Pakistan’s supporters, and vice versa.

If the NSG hopes to end this deadlock, it must be impartial and fair – which means giving India and Pakistan full membership at the same time. Anything less than that will be viewed as a continuation of the same biased policy.