Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema
Statement by India’s Minister for External Affairs, Sushma Swarag, that India will not oppose Pakistan ‘entry into the NSG but would want its application to be considered on merit, is no less than a deception if one understands the use of nuances by the Indian foreign policy leadership. First of all, the statement has been coerced on India because of China’s principled public stance at Geneva meeting blocking consensus on the Indian gatecrash into the NSG.
Once the Chinese opposition to an exclusive Indian membership without Pakistan became clear at the meeting, India enticed the United States who is ever ready to play the Indian fiddle, to be the first to lay the trap through Secretary Kerry’s statement that India would treat Pakistan’s membership of the NSG on merits if it gets into it (off course before Pakistan). The Indian Foreign Secretary has gone over Beijing to lure the Chinese on whose return Sushma Swarag replayed the gambit.
It goes without saying that India’s version of ‘merits’ policy has been formulated differently than China-Pakistan ‘criteria’ based approach, although the genealogy of the two words is almost the same. It is essential to understand the inherent nuances invariably employed, albeit intentional, by the Indian leadership to cloak their real intentions behind statements made for public consumption. The first Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who is undoubtedly considered the architect of the Indian Foreign and Security policies, was very apt in projecting nuances whenever and wherever he wanted. It is noteworthy that throughout his premiership, while explaining India’s nuclear policy during the formative phase of its nuclear program, Nehru’s was deliberately subtle on his choice of words and excluded the term ‘military’ from his assurances on the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. He invariably opted for terms that are more opaque; that India will not use atomic energy for “evil” and “destructive” purposes in the context of the debate on military versus peaceful uses of atomic energy.
Nowhere, in his entire range of views on the use nuclear energy, Nehru ever said that India would not use it for ‘military’ purposes. Since Nehru was not willing to provide contractually binding obligations for peaceful uses of nuclear technology, he instead chose to give equivocal assurances. In an assessment on the ‘Atomic Energy Development in India’, the Scientific Adviser to the British government, Dr. H. R. Ambler, noted in January 1960: The unequivocal statement by the Prime Minister (Government of India pressnote of 16.12.59) that atomic energy would never be used for “evil purposes” means little, as self-defence would not be considered “evil.”
The Indo-US ensnare to treat Pakistan’s application for the NSG membership is motivated by India’s burning desire to somehow get into the NSG without Pakistan, by hook or crook even if it means deluding Pakistan with false impressions. The 48 member’s cartel would formally commence debate on 23-24 June on the membership requests from India and Pakistan.
The forthcoming plenary meeting is anticipated to undertake a watershed decision that would impact the future of South Asian strategic landscape. India’s favorite position to join the NSG due to its propping as a “pivot” in the U.S. Asia-Pacific strategy, assisted to become a rival great-power to China seem to be stymied. China is being viewed as the most probable contender having the potential to challenge the US claim to being a sole super power. Hence the policy adopted by the US is to contain China’s rise. To pursue this objective the linkages around the world are being created with the prime aim to encircle China to prevent its emergence as a global player.
Hence as per US strategic thinking, India is being seen to have a substantial role to play in the containment of China and therefore, being patronized as deserving for the NSG exclusive. However this approach is a complete non-sense in view of India’s track record as demonstrated in 1974 and 1988 nuclear tests and mocking the entire non-proliferation regime until recently. Its labeling the full scope IAEA safeguards as ‘chaining the new born babies(NNWS) while leaving the criminals free (NWS), its rejection of the NPT as instrument for ‘disarming the unarmed’ and its vetoing the CTBT in 1996 at CD are part of a long trail of its sardonic dismissal of the NPR (Non-Proliferation regime)
India is facing a very critical situation the unwarranted propping by the US and its allies seem failing to manage the NSG membership for it. Its ailed powers are generating tremendous pressure in favoring India’s membership to NSG with China being an exception. China maintains that “NSG should have discussion on the joining of the non-NPT countries in a way agreed by all parties, so as to make a decision based on agreement. This position is not directed against any country and applies to all non-NPT states.”
Pakistan wants to be granted NSG membership but strictly adheres to the non-discriminatory and unbiased approach in the NSG band to accommodate the non-NPT signatories. Pakistan’s major concern is that India will permanently block Pakistan’s entry in the group by using the consensus clause if India becomes the member of NSG. Pakistan also fears that India would divert its civilian nuclear technology to enhance its weapons capability.
Recently, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj stated that “we are not opposed to any country’s entrance into NSG based on merit, including Pakistan”. The statement appeared at a time when both sates are making political and diplomatic efforts to create space for itself in the NSG. It seems another diplomatic effort by India to deviate Pakistan from its stern response against Indian membership. Pakistan committed a grave mistake by not opposing this initiative back then where it should have opposed special waiver to India. Once again Pakistan is being expected to adjust to India’s formal membership to the group despite the fact that India does not meet any of the criteria for NSG membership. At the same time this fact is intentionally being ignored by the West that materialization of India’s NSG full membership is highly detrimental to Pakistan’s security future.
Therefore, Pakistan should not repeat the same mistake and should stand firm on its stance to either have this membership simultaneously granted to Pakistan also, or otherwise, not be given to India either. Pakistan should work more stringently towards redefining its policies and making international community realize Pakistan’s genuine security concerns. Pakistan can survive without NSG membership but it is necessary for Pakistan to be acknowledged, accepted and treated as a nuclear weapon state by the international community. If rules are to be violated to entertain Indian interest then certainly Pakistan could seek the same treatment.
— The writer is the President/Executive Director Strategic Vision Institute, a think tank based in Islamabad.