ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz claimed on Monday that the government’s “active and successful foreign policy” had blocked India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and that New Delhi would not be able to join the group alone.
“We have been successful in preventing India from gaining access to the NSG and I am hopeful that whenever it happens, we will both join it together and India will not be able to join the NSG alone,” Mr Aziz said while winding up a debate in the Senate on an adjournment motion regarding the agreement signed by India, Iran and Afghanistan for the development of the Chabahar Port and its impact on Pakistan, particularly on the Gwadar Port.
Mr Aziz said that in the last week’s meeting at Vienna (Austria), member states of the NSG had accepted Pakistan’s viewpoint and expressed the hope that India would not be able to join the group when members would hold another meeting in Seoul later this month.
He said that he had recently approached a number of countries, including Russia, Mexico, South Korea and New Zealand, and many countries had supported Islamabad’s viewpoint that there should be a criteria-based approach while deciding about inclusion of any country into the NSG.
Responding to concerns of senators over development of the Chabahar Port in Iran with the help of India, Mr Aziz said that Pakistan had already signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) for sister-port relations between the Chabahar and Gwadar Ports. Moreover, he said, a proposal to build a rail link between the two ports was also under consideration.
The adviser was of the view that to improve connectivity in the region, more than one port was required.
“The Gwadar and Chabahar ports are needed and they are complimentary,” he said, adding that since Gwadar was a deep port, its utility would be greater than that of the Chabahar Port.
The adviser also briefed members on a number of ongoing projects to improve connectivity in the region through establishing road and rail links between Pakistan and Central Asian states and other neighbouring countries. He said that the government was also taking steps to improve facilities for effective implementation of the Afghan Transit Trade Agreement.
After providing details of the ongoing projects, including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the adviser said that “the general impression that we are either getting isolated or losing momentum is not correct”.
He said that after lifting of sanctions against Iran, Pakistan had intensified its efforts on Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline Project and in improving bilateral economic and trade relations.
The adviser said the US shift of policy towards India was because of Washington’s policy to contain China. Moreover, he said, this shift was not sudden and it started after 9/11.
Mr Aziz said that the address of Indian Prime Minister Narendera Modi to the US Congress was directed against Pakistan, adding that India was complaining about non-state actors whereas Pakistan had prepared a dossier containing evidence of activities of Indian intelligence agency RAW in Balochistan and other parts of the country.
Earlier, taking part in the discussion on an adjournment motion moved by Mian Ateeq of the MQM, senators urged the government to develop and improve infrastructure at the Gwadar Port so that it could compete with the Chabahar Port effectively.
PPP’s Farhatullah Babar said that Pakistan’s isolation was rooted more in its unrealistic foreign policy goals and objectives than in anything else.
“Frustration and isolation will result when we insist on projecting state power under nuclear umbrella without regard to limitations of our true national power and problems of militancy, extremism, sectarianism and economic weaknesses,” he added.
Mr Babar said the state narrative on the killing of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour and “our growing isolation is described in terms of attack on sovereignty and corruption in Nadra and international conspiracies against us”.
He said that in the wake of Mansour’s killing, “instead of stock-taking we again raised the Jihadi banner”.
“The nearly 20,000 security cameras in the federal capital failed to notice the proscribed Jamaatud Dawa leaders supposedly banned under the National Action Plan descending on Islamabad and reviving the Jihadi project,” he said in his apparent reference to a rally organised by the group last week to protest against growing US-India relations.
He was of the view that Chabahar was not a threat to Pakistan as long as Pakistan seriously worked on completing the CPEC.
The PML-Q’s Mushahid Hussain said that the Indian prime minister’s policy was clear that he wanted to “isolate and encircle Pakistan”.
Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2016