ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said on Sunday that Pakistan’s credentials for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) were stronger than India’s if the 48-nation cartel agreed to follow uniform criteria for non-NPT states.

In an interview to DawnNews, Mr Aziz said that Pakistan had diplomatically engaged many countries over the criteria-based approach for non-NPT countries and if the group followed uniform criteria, then Pakistan had better credentials than India for the NSG membership.

“Our strategy was that when India will apply, we will immediately follow suit and we had our application in an advanced state of readiness for the past two, three months for the purpose,” he said.

He claimed that Pakistan had gradually gathered considerable support for the criteria-based approach.

“Last week, I telephoned Russian foreign minister, New Zealand’s foreign minister, Korean foreign minister, 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 PM’s adviser.

Mr Aziz expressed the hope that due to Pakistan’s efforts and its strong credentials if India gained entry into the club, Pakistan would not be left behind.

Answering a question about nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan’s confessions regarding proliferation, he said that Pakistan had come a long way since then and everyone had seen how Pakistan had safeguarded its nuclear assets.

“If you compare it with India, when our neighbouring country carried out a nuclear test in 1974 it misused the nuclear supplies given to it for peaceful purposes, which led to the formation of the NSG.

“And even after that nuclear fissile material was stolen from India, but such an instance never occurred in Pakistan,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2016