ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Sunday said Pakistan's credentials for the membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) are stronger than India's if the 48-nation cartel agrees to form a uniform criteria for non-NPT states.
In an exclusive interview with DawnNews, Aziz said Pakistan has diplomatically engaged numerous countries over the criteria-based approach for non-NPT countries.
"If the group forms such a uniform criteria, then Pakistan has stronger credentials for NSG membership than India."
"Our strategy was to apply after India did, after which we would have immediately followed. We have had our application in an advance state of readiness for the past three months for this this purpose," Aziz said.
He claimed that Pakistan has gradually gathered support for the criteria based approach.
"Last week, I telephoned the foreign ministers of Russia, New Zealand and South Korea, who will in future head the NSG, and our viewpoint was that they should support the criteria-based approach, and we have gathered support for it, China was already supporting it," said the adviser to PM.
He expressed hope that, due to Pakistan's efforts and its strong credentials, if India gains entry into the club, Pakistan will not be left behind.
Answering a question regarding nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan's confession, he said Pakistan has come a long way since then and everyone has witnessed Pakistan safeguarding its nuclear assets.
"If you compare it with India, when our neigbouring country conducted a nuclear test in 1974, it misused the nuclear supplies given to it for peaceful purposes, which led to the formation of NSG. After that nuclear fissile material was stolen from India, but such an instance has never occurred in Pakistan," Aziz said.
'US building India against China'
Aziz said US has formed a policy to 'build up India' as "their entire attention is towards containing the Islamic world and China".
"We cannot question them but we repeatedly tell them that you (US) are a sovereign country and can maintain any level of relations with any country, but if you increase the strategic and conventional imbalance in South Asia, our problems will increase," said the foreign affairs adviser while referring to US support for India's inclusion in NSG
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Regarding Pakistan's relations with India, he said things have changed as the Modi administration wants to normalise ties, but according to their 'preferences' and India does not wish to discuss the Kashmir issue.
"The whole world agrees that the two countries should start dialogue for lasting peace in South Asia."
Replying to a question about Indian 'spy' Kulbhushan Jhadav and apprising the world of his activities, Aziz stated India raises the issue of Pakistan's non-state actors and their subversive activities in India repeatedly, but Jhadav is a state-actor as he is a RAW operative.
"But what is more important is that his (Jhadav) documentation is correct and we are preparing a proper dossier about his activities and network, so we can share it with friendly countries, the UN and the P5 countries," said Aziz.
'US could not explain the Mullah Mansour drone strike'
When asked as to what message did the US want to send by the May 21 drone strike which killed Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Mansour, the adviser said US authorities could not explain as to what objective they achieved by the act as "their domestic electoral politics had a part in it".
"Our idea is that it's ultimate effect will be negative, both for the bilateral relations and the Afghan peace dialogue on the whole," Aziz added.
India's NSG bid
India's membership of the NSG is "not merited until the country meets the group's standards", a New York Times (NYT) editorial said earlier in June.
The group's membership has signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty but India has refused to do so, which means "it has not accepted legally binding commitments to pursue disarmament negotiations, halt the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and not test nuclear weapons".
A key US Senator, Ed Markey, had also warned that enabling India to join the NSG would cause a “never-ending” nuclear race in South Asia.
Pakistan's application is likely to lead to a showdown in the group which has also been facing calls to induct India as a member.
US President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that his country is backing India’s bid to join the club. China could also insist, as a condition of India's membership, that Pakistan also be allowed to join.
The NSG, which was created in response to India's first nuclear test in 1974, is expected to hold its next meeting in June.
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.