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WASHINGTON: As China warned on Thursday that India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) would threaten stability in the Asia-Pacific region, Pakistan reached out to US lawmakers to explain its position on the issue.

Both China and Pakistan oppose India’s entry into the NSG, arguing that admitting a country that has not yet signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty goes against the group’s objective.

Founded in response to the Indian nuclear test in May 1974, the 48-member NSG seeks to reduce proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of nuclear material.

Last week, Pakistan too submitted an application in Vienna for joining the NSG. The Pakistani move followed expedited efforts by the US and other world powers to induct India into the group,

The US is helping India to join the NSG in the 2016 plenary session of the group, scheduled to be held later this month but says that Pakistan’s request will be decided by a consensus.

Pakistan, however, is reaching out to US policymakers and legislators to explain its position on this issue.

Last week, Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani sent a letter to key US senators, explaining how Pakistan qualified to join the NSG.

On Wednesday, he met Senator Ed Markey at the Capitol Hill and discussed matters related to global nuclear non-proliferation.

He briefed Senator Markey on the steps Pakistan had taken “for its mainstreaming in the nuclear non-proliferation regime,” the Pakistan Embassy said.

The statement underlined the measures Pakistan had taken to harmonise its export controls with the NSG and adherence to the NSG guidelines with regard to transfer of nuclear material, equipment and related technology.

Ambassador Jilani told Senator Markey that Pakistan’s desire to participate in the NSG “stands on solid grounds of technical experience, capability and well-established commitment to nuclear safety”.

“They exchanged views on a non-discriminatory and equitable approach for membership of the NSG,” the embassy said. Pakistan says that instead of making an exemption for India, the NSG should allow other countries with proven nuclear programmes to join the group.

Ambassador Jilani also discussed “matters related to strategic stability in South Asia” with Senator Markey.

At a recent congressional hearing, Senator Markey had urged the Obama administration not to back India’s bid to join the NSG, as it would disturb stability in South Asia and further fuel a nuclear competition in the region.

Meanwhile, the official Chinese media warned on Thursday that India’s entry into the NSG would “shake” the strategic balance in South Asia, leaving behind China’s all-weather ally, Pakistan.

The state-run Global Times pointed out that India’s presence in the NSG would “cast a cloud over peace and stability” in the entire Asia-Pacific region.

“The major goal for India’s NSG ambition is to obtain an edge over Islamabad in nuclear capabilities,” the newspaper warned. “Once New Delhi gets the membership first, the nuclear balance between India and Pakistan will be broken.”

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2016