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Pakistan intensifies lobbying against India’s NSG bid

Islamabad, June 8 (IANS) A day after India received the US’s backing for Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership, Pakistan stepped up its diplomatic outreach among members of the cartel and warned that country-specific exemptions could negatively impact strategic stability in South Asia.

Pakistan foreign miistry’s UN Desk on Wednesday held a briefing in Islamabad for diplomatic missions of NSG member-countries to put forward its arguments.

Adding to its diplomatic leverage, the Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz telephoned a few foreign ministers, including from Russia, New Zealand and South Korea to seek backing for Pakistan’s membership of the group.

“Pakistan has the expertise, manpower, infrastructure and the ability to supply NSG controlled items, goods and services for a full range of nuclear applications for peaceful uses,” said Tasnim Aslam, head of the UN Desk in the foreign ministry, conveyed to the gathered members.

She urged the diplomats to adopt an “objective and non-discriminatory criteria” for membership of non-NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) states to the 48-member NSG.

India’s membership of the NSG was “not merited until the country meets the group’s standards” — of which inking the NPT is a major criteria, a New York Times (NYT) editorial has said.

The group’s members have to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty but India has refused to do so, Aslam said, adding that it is tantamount to New Delhi not accepting “legally binding commitments to pursue disarmament negotiations, halt the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and not test nuclear weapons”.

Aziz on Wednesday telephoned Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully, and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, to highlight Pakistan’s credentials for NSG membership with a view to seek their support.

On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama announced that his country is backing India’s bid to join the club.

Both India and Pakistan have applied to become members of the exclusive club.

China, which is backing Pakistan’s bid, could also insist, as a condition for supporting India’s membership, that Islamabad be allowed to join the cartel.

The NSG is a 48-nation club dedicated to curbing nuclear arms proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that could foster nuclear weapons development.

On Tuesday, Aziz told Pakistan’s Senate that the country was lobbying “effectively and pro-actively” in all member countries of the NSG to curb India’s efforts to join the club.

He told the Senate that Pakistan’s “efforts towards non-discriminatory approach will pay off”.

Aziz was responding to concerns expressed by Pakistani lawmakers over the “growing collusion between India and the US” and apprehension that the NSG member states would positively consider India’s request to join it.

Pakistan Muslim League-Q Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, chairman of the Senate Defence Committee, said that Pakistan’s diplomacy had “failed” and that if India became a member of the NSG, it would be able to block Pakistan’s entry into the group.

“We have alienated Iran and Afghanistan and the two countries are now improving their economic ties with India,” he said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently visited Afghanistan and Iran, which are immediate neighbours to Pakistan.

“This is our diplomatic failure. The Indians are encircling us from all sides. Even our immediate neighbours, like Afghanistan and Iran, have gone to India. It’s a result of our failed diplomacy and traditionally passive foreign policy,” Sayed added.

Besides efforts to counter Indian designs through military means, Sayed called for “cohesion” within the country, saying that India should not be in a position to take advantage of the situation inside Pakistan.

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