ISLAMABAD -  Pakistan on Thursday said that it sought criteria-based approach for the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership.

Addressing the weekly media briefing here, Foreign Office Spokesman Nafees Zakaria said Pakistan met every criteria for the NGG membership.

Pakistan has been urging NSG member countries to adopt objective and non-discriminatory criteria to award membership.

During the last meeting of the NSG members in June – where Pakistan and India were applicants to join the elite group – both the nuclear-armed neighbours failed in their bid. China fully supported Pakistan in that meeting leading to India’s failure to get a unanimous vote.

The NSG – a group of nuclear supplier countries - seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of two sets of guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear-related exports.

The NSG guidelines also contain the so-called “Non-Proliferation Principle,” adopted in 1994, whereby a supplier, “notwithstanding other provisions in the NSG guidelines” authorises a transfer only when satisfied that the transfer would not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

This week the Washington-based Arms Control Association (ACA) said a draft proposal to accept new members in the NSG favoured India and could leave Pakistan out.

Zakaria said that certain countries had supported India for the NSG membership bid but “no country has opposed Pakistan's membership” of NSG on the basis of non-discriminatory criteria.

To a question, the spokesman said that India could not unilaterally alter or suspend the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT).

He said Pakistan would announce its strategy in case of any violation of IWT by India. “We are closely watching the situation. We will not allow India’s water aggression,” he said.

Zakaria said that in the past, Pakistan and India had resolved the IWT issues amicably and this could be done again. “The arbitration mechanism can be utilised,” he added.

The spokesman said Pakistan wanted peaceful ties with India and other countries. “We want to resolve all issues with India including Kashmir peacefully and through talks,” he said.

Zakaria said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif envisioned good neighbourly relations with regional countries and the world.  “We believe the international powers must play their due role in resolving the Kashmir issue. We are always ready for talks,” he said.

Hoping that 2017 would be a better year for the Kashmiris, he said during the last over five months, the media has very objectively, effectively and constantly gave coverage and highlighted the plight of “our Kashmiri brethren in Indian occupied Kashmir. They have been subjected to worst brutalities in living memory by the occupying forces of India.”

He said during last one week, Indian occupation forces used brute force on peaceful protestors in Kashmir, “which resulted in the injuries to several hundred Kashmiris, including over two dozen journalists.”

Zakaria said continued confinement of Kashmiri leaders and inhuman treatment meted out to them was condemnable. “Night raids and arbitrary arrests of innocent Kashmiris continue. Occupying forces, joined by the terrorist organisations such as RSS, Vishwa Hindu Prasad, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal and other terrorist elements are engaged in the drive to change the demography in Indian occupied Kashmir, which is a blatant violation of UN Security Council’s Resolutions on Kashmir and fundamental human rights. We condemn the unabated violation of UNSC Resolutions on Kashmir by India”.

On the Pakistan-Russia-China trilateral meeting held in Moscow this month, he said the December 27 meeting was aimed to hold an informal discussion on regional peace and stability issues and the situation in Afghanistan. “Afghanistan has been invited to join the mechanism. We want Afghanistan to be part of talks on peace efforts,” he added citing reports that Kabul had protested against their exclusion.

Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmad Shekib Mostaghni claimed his country had not been properly briefed on the trilateral meeting in Moscow. He said talks without including Afghanistan would fail to achieve any goals.

Zakaria said: “We adhere to our commitment to peace and stability in Afghanistan and to contribute to development of Afghanistan.”

To a question, he said Pakistan wanted an amicable resolution of the Palestine issue. He added: “Pakistan extended support to the Palestinian cause in the past and maintained that policy.”

Regarding the UNSC resolution on Israel, he said: “I understand your reference is to the Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories. We want to see a lasting peace in the Middle East based on international law and relevant UN Resolutions.”

Zakaria said the inauguration of Chashma-III nuclear power plant was yet another important landmark in Pakistan’s drive towards meeting country’s ever growing energy demand and further strengthening of Pakistan-China friendship and mutually beneficial relationship.

“The 6th meeting of Joint Cooperation Committee on CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) is being held in Beijing today,” he added.

He said the reports about an Iranian merchant ship, named MV Joya, with Pakistani crew aboard being hit by a rocket in Yemeni waters, was in circulation for 10 days. “Similar news was circulating in the first week of this month. As we did previously, on our instructions our diplomatic missions concerned made efforts to verify the news but the occurrence of the incident could not be established,” he said.

Zakaria said that Pakistan also approached the Yemeni embassy here but they also could not confirm it. “We noted that there had been no official or unofficial statement from Iran as well. We heard that the gentleman who initially broke the news also later said that the news could not be confirmed. Efforts are still on to verify the report,” he maintained.

The spokesman said Pakistan had very strongly taken up the case of Pakistan national Dr Aafia Sidiqi and she was being extended consular assistance whenever needed.  “She is also visited by officers periodically to inquire about her welfare,” he said. 

Zakaria congratulated Dr Rashid Chotani on winning the United States of America’s ‘Scientific Achievement Award 2016.’